RBC Heritage interview: Jason DayApril 17, 2013
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JOHN BUSH: We'd like to welcome Jason Day in the interview room at the RBC Heritage, making his fourth start at this tournament. Most recently a tie for ninth place in 2011.
Jason, talk about being back at Harbour Town.
JASON DAY: It's great to be back here. The weather is unbelievable this week. The course looks in fantastic shape. I think it's going to set up for a great tournament. There's a lot of good players in the field, so it's going to be very, very difficult to obviously go out there and win. But that's what you want. You want a challenging week. It's obviously good for spectators and people watching on TV.
I'm really happy with how everything is going this week.
Q. Obviously you were in contention last week, how difficult will it be, or will it be difficult, to kind of get your competitive mind going back the week after the Masters?
JASON DAY: I think it's not going to be difficult to get the competitive mind back. I think the biggest part is trying to get the rest and feeling like I'm rested enough. Because always there's I got there the Friday the week before, and I practiced Friday, played on Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, and then played the par 3 on Wednesday and then got to the tournament. And the tournament was very, very long. It felt like I was there for a month, but obviously I was only there for a week and a half. The tee times were so late being at 2:45 on Saturday, and being off at 2:20 on Sunday. It felt like I was sitting around a long time thinking about it.
That whole week was more of a mental grind, physical grind. I think mentally and physically I'm a little tired. But I'm really looking forward to the week. I came in on Monday. I drove across and played nine holes Monday here and then off Tuesday, and I played the Pro Am today. And I think the preparation this week has been solid. I've worked very hard this week to try and be the best prepared I can be to come and compete and play in this tournament, because I would really like to win this tournament. I know that I've been coming here, this is my fourth year now, and this is the type of course that it's very tight. It demands a lot on your second and third shots around here and your short game, obviously.
I feel like my game is trending in the right direction, obviously due to last week's performance. I feel good about it.
Q. You just described what a tough grind Augusta is. What's maybe the main lure about this tournament? When you look down the field and you've got a number of outstanding players, and I imagine it would be very, very easy to take this week off after the grind of Augusta.
JASON DAY: Well, I committed and I didn't want to pull out because when you commit to something you follow through.
It's an amazing golf course. It really is. It's one of the pretty much old school golf courses we get to play on the PGA TOUR. Most courses become more modern, where they're getting really long. And they're getting difficult by length. This course shows that you don't really need length to make a golf course difficult. For me, personally, there's a lot of irons, long irons off the tees and a lot of 4 woods. I don't believe, obviously with weather, how the weather goes this week will depend on if I'm going to pull the driver out a lot. But just thinking about it, there's only maybe four or five drivers out there. Most of them are pretty much 4 woods and long irons.
So it's difficult. You've got to shape your shots both ways. And the greens are so small, you have to be really sharp with your irons to hit the greens.
Q. Can you compare the last two days to how it was in 2011. Was it easier? Harder? How do you move on?
JASON DAY: You know, I finished second in 2011 in Augusta, and I came here and I was kind of like pretty much the same, a big whirlwind. I had no idea what was going on around me. My mind was thinking about the week prior. And I think this week I'm a lot more prepared than I was two years ago, and I finished ninth two years ago.
Like I said, I'm really looking forward to a good week. My plan is to try every tournament that I compete in and I try and win. Sitting down with Cole this afternoon and go over the game plan and see what we actually need to do to win these events. Because every time we come into an event, me and Cole sit down before the tournament starts and go over stats that we've had previously on tournaments. This one we know exactly which holes are problem holes for us, and we know which holes we're playing good. We've just got to try to work that out.
Q. You said something interesting there, you said you felt like you were at Augusta for a month because you were there so long and you played so much going into it. Have you had a chance to digest the performance last week, or any part you felt fatigued, mentally or physically coming down the stretch?
JASON DAY: No, I haven't really had a chance to really sit down with people and talk, other than myself and Cole walking fairways, just playing practice rounds and Jason Henry that I work with. That they do the Focus Band stuff. Other than just walking down the fairways and talking to them about it, not really. I mean that tournament is over now. It was a very positive week. But I've got to move on to the next one and try and win this one.
Q. Does it almost help being here given the atmosphere, given the sort of relaxed nature here, rather than taking a week off and dwelling on it?
JASON DAY: Yeah, if I was in Columbus it would be storm and rain and I'd be indoors anyway. It's nice to be here and have sunshine and just kind of relax. Because as a PGA TOUR stop, it is more relaxed, obviously, than last week. Augusta is just Augusta. It's fun to be here with the family. And my coach, my caddie, he actually lives here, just lives off the island in Bluffton. It's kind of like a home game for him, as well. And he has a lot of friends and family here. It's just a fun week to play in.
Q. You mentioned different strategies from this course to the last one, Gary Player said it was his favorite course because it rewards a good shot and penalizes a bad one. With the exception of 18, it's not a putting contest.
JASON DAY: Yes, I think this is very key on where you plot the course. If you look at the past winners, those guys, they're not big bombers. They're the guys that actually they're very patient with their game. They plot around the course, and they don't take a lot of risk. What I'm trying to say is they're very, very patient with how they go about things. And that's what you kind of need around here, because when you hit a bad shot, you get penalized around here. And everyone knows that.
So when the wind is up and it's very difficult, because like I played the Pro Am today it was really swirly out there. The direction of the wind, you really couldn't you didn't know where it was coming from. So that's the kind of patience that you need out there. You look at the guys that won in the past, they're not very big hitters. They're very straight hitters, and they hit a lot of greens and typically putt well when they're short hitters.
Q. You talked about the lure of this golf course with the old school feel and all that sort of thing, popularity, and obviously the field is strong this year. The first time you came here, what got you here? What had you heard word of mouth or did people say, hey, that's a course that would suit you? What brought you here the first time and what was your first experience like?
JASON DAY: I knew that this course simply suited straight players. Peter Lonard won here. Baddeley won here, and I had to check it out, because if those guys were playing well here, and I played on similar golf courses to those guys, it must suit me. When I got here, unfortunately it didn't suit me. I had to redo the course strategy and I'm slowly working out the kinks now.
This is the kind of course that you need to play two or three or four times to understand how to play the course, where to hit it. When you're out there the first time you know where to go and where to hit it. But being young and sometimes stupid, you go for some stupid shots. And unfortunately when you do that it brings in a lot of trouble.
Like I said, it's an old school course. It makes you think, and you have to be patient around it.
Q. Have you talked to people back in your home country? What's the reaction to Adam's victory?
JASON DAY: I mean, everyone is so happy that Scotty won. I'm happy that he won, as well. Took us 77 Masters to get one. There was Greg in the past and a few other guys that have been close as well.
Everyone is very, very happy for him. It's hard to not be happy for the guy because he's so nice. The only people that I've talked to is my mom and my sister. And a couple of other buddies, but they were just congratulating me on good playing. We just talked about how he played so well, how controlled he was. It was hard not to bet against him. Even when he walked off the 18th hole and I went and shook his hand, you could see it in his eyes, he was still in game mode. He was just so focused and he played to win the tournament, which that's what you need to do. Once you start trying to defend that, that's when you kind of go backwards. And he was out there playing to win. It was an exciting finish.
Q. How long did it take you to get over what happened Sunday night for you?
JASON DAY: I thought about it that night. It's not what I did, it's what I did to get there, that gave me the opportunity to win the Masters is what I'm mainly focusing on. I played really solid all week and I hit a lot of good quality golf shots under pressure to give myself the chance to have a shot at winning the tournament. The shot on 15 over the water with a 4 iron in my hand with rain coming down was very difficult because the day prior, from 210 yards, pretty much the same spot I hit 5 iron just straight over the back of the green. So standing up there with a longer club knowing that I hit 5 iron over the back of the green the day prior and hitting the shot below the hole was a very, very great shot at the time for myself because it just showed how trusting and committed I was to that shot.
There's a lot of positives I need to take out. Looking at 16 and 17. 17 I played a great hole, if that 8 iron was a couple of feet extra I think it would have got over the lip of the bunker, and I would have had 15, 20 feet, maybe max. I just have to look at those holes and see what needs to be done for next year. If there's any other way to play differently, then I need to play differently. But I've just got to learn from this experience and move on and hopefully win one next year.
Q. Did Adam winning in any way ease the disappointment? And secondly, have you talked to him since then? I'm sure you have, and maybe share some of the conversation there?
JASON DAY: We were trading texts back and forth. I knew he would be busy with a lot of media stuff, being the first Australian to win the Masters, and it's an amazing achievement. We were just trading texts back and forth. And he texted me and said, "I know you're disappointed, but you showed a lot of class." And I texted him back and said, "I'm glad it was you to be the first. It goes down in history forever, mate." That's pretty much my last text. It really does. Being the first Australian to win the Masters does go down in history. And that's got to feel good for him.
I know that he's had an amazing career up until now and going back, and not how he wanted to play in the British last year. The way he finished there, it was difficult. And he knew that. And I'm sure he was disappointed then. But it just makes the win now that much sweeter. It really does. It just goes to show you he worked on it and he improved and became a better player on and off the golf course. He's believing in himself and that's why he won the Masters.
Q. The great things that you guys do, the public doesn't know about. The stuff that you guys do off the golf course. Last week this tournament presented 15 scholarships to high school seniors that are going to allow them to go on in their career. And all of you have some charity or something off the course to help kids. What about you?
JASON DAY: Well, we have a little foundation; it's called the Brighter Days Foundation. Me and my wife, Ellie, we don't typically just hold ourselves to one charity. We like to look at things, maybe we see something on TV or we donated some money to the K 9 unit in Genoa Township, that's where we live, to the police force. They lost a dog a few months back. And they needed a K 9 unit there, and we decided to donate there. And the officers there are phenomenal. My alarm system on by bloody house always goes off, and they're there to make sure nobody is there stealing our stuff (laughter). They've been really nice. We've helped out a few charities here and there.
But we're pretty young and just starting this. So hopefully over time we have a golf tournament here or there, and truly help out people. Because at the end of the day it's great to play golf. And it actually makes you feel so much better when you're actually giving back, which is kind of cool.
JOHN BUSH: Jason, we appreciate your time. Play well this week.