PINEHURST, N.C. -- In case you were wondering, Jason Day says he's 100 percent recovered from the injury to his left thumb that sidelined him for the better part of three months earlier this year.
So don't be surprised to find the 26-year-old Australian contending at the U.S. Open this week at Pinehurst No. 2.
After all, Day was playing extremely well when he was injured. Just three starts into his 2014 PGA TOUR season Day had already won the World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play Championship and tied for second at the Farmers Insurance Open.
Not to mention, the Aussie's record in major championships is impressive. He's played in 14 now and has been runner-up three times, including twice at the U.S. Open. He also finished third at the 2013 Masters.
"I've been close in a few majors now -- so close that you can almost taste it," Day acknowledged. "It's disappointing and encouraging at the same time. It really is all how you look at things. I can stew on it and say, you know, I kind have blown a few, blown a major or two or I had a real opportunity to win and I just didn't quite get there.
"But I look at it as experience. I feel like I'll get there one day. I just have to keep giving myself the opportunities. If I can put myself there more and more and more, it's bound to happen, I just feel like it's bound to happen."
During the three months he missed with the thumb injury, Day said he tried everything to ease the pain -- cortisone shots, oral sterios, compound cremes. But the abbreviated apppendage basically healed at its own pace, and rushing back to competition, as he tried to do at the Cadillac Championship, would only be counterproductive.
"It doesn't sound like a lot; it's not like a back or a major part of the body," Day said. "But unfortunately, as golfers, we have to grip the golf club. So it's just amazing how we underestimate our hands and our fingers. ...
"We need our whole body, but you can kind of get away with hitting -- getting away with playing a few tournaments with a bad back or a bad knee or something like that. But if you can't grip the golf club, then obviously that's an issue."
Day also missed an opportunity to get to No. 1 in the world during his layoff. He rose to No. 4 -- behind Tiger Woods, Adam Scott and Henrik Stenson -- with his win at Dove Mountain but now clocks in at No. 7.
"That's been my dream ever since I was a little kid," Day said. "So to say I was frustrated was a bit of an understatement."
Instead, Day watched while Scott, his good friend, made the move and unseated Tiger. He says that's motivated him, and Day knows the U.S. Open is a good place to start another climb.
"That's the biggest thing about really anything that you want to try and achieve, you have to want it, you have to have goals," Day said. "... It's still on my radar and I think it always will be. I just have to keep working hard, doing the right things and doing the little things that count."
June 10, 2014