PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – It has been 51 weeks since defending Players champion Jason Day has won on the PGA Tour. If that streak ends here this week, it would be the first time a golfer has won back-to-back Players Championships.
"That's surprising to me," Day said as he addressed more than 50 members of the media on Tuesday morning. "It just goes to show you how hard it is to come back and play this golf course because it does test every aspect of your game, not only the physical part but the mental part as well. If you don't come to a golf course like this sharp on both areas, then it will really unfold out there."
Day is hoping to get back to being as sharp in both of those areas this week. He had a difficult start to the year with back problems and dealing with his ailing mother who is suffering from lung cancer. Day said that she's doing great now, in fact she is back to work at her job in shipping/exporting. However, she still needs tests every couple of months that requires her to come to Columbus, Ohio from her native Australia.
"Jason looks ready to poke his head back out this week," said Collin Swatton, Day's caddy, mentor and friend.
That would be just fine with Day, who is trying to regain the No. 1 ranking in the world.
"I didn't realize that once you get to No. 1 in the world the amount of demand from the media, fans, sponsors and everything else," Day said. "It can sometimes feel like you are getting pulled in all directions and it can be suffocating at times and that's not what you want when you're on top. But saying that, I would do anything in the world to get back there. There's no other better feeling than being the best."
That could be a daunting task. Especially when current No. 1 Dustin Johnson is driving it 350 yards down the middle, flipping a wedge close and sinking every putt. However, Day says that his preparation and focus this week at The Players are going to be his key to winning.
"This feels like a major to me so the expectation and obviously the play kind of heightens a little bit when you come to events like this," Day said. There's a lot of guys playing well right now so the biggest thing for me is to focus and prepare correctly."
Day is scheduled to begin the defense of his Players Championship Thursday at 8:16 a.m.