By Tony Jimenez
TROON, Scotland (Reuters) – Jason Day is unconcerned about the threat being posed to his status as world number one by Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy – for the Australian it is all about “conquering my ego”.
It was his display in the 2015 British Open that gave Day the belief to launch a barnstorming run to the top of the rankings and now, 12 months on, he would like nothing more than to triumph at the world’s oldest major for the first time.
The U.S. PGA Championship winner is certainly not fretting about the possibility of having to eclipse second-ranked Johnson, number three Spieth or fourth-ranked McIlroy in a head-to-head duel in Sunday’s closing round at Troon.
“I’m not so worried about them beating me, I’m worried about myself beating myself, that’s the biggest thing,” Day told a news conference on Monday.
“To really try to conquer yourself and try to conquer your ego at times,” added the player who finished one stroke behind Open winner Zach Johnson at St Andrews a year ago.
“If they beat me just because they play better, that’s fine, but if I beat myself and let them beat me, that’s what is disappointing and frustrating.”
Asked to describe what he meant, Day explained that it was mainly about tempering his aggression on the course.
“Sometimes you stand up there and think you can play shots that are not percentage shots,” he said.
“Even though you want to take them on and hit that heroic shot and turn out to be the victor, sometimes it’s just not the right time. That’s kind of conquering your ego a little bit.”
Day is a friend of 14-times major winner Tiger Woods, who is still sidelined following the back operation he underwent in September, and he has learned a great deal from the former world number one.
“The chats that we have are all about how mentally tough he was,” said Day who has won seven times in the past 12 months. “When he didn’t have his best stuff he would just find a way to get the job done.
“His game plan was, ‘I’ve just got to get this ball in the hole’. I’ve learned a lot from him, the mental strength he had, just the will to try and get the job done regardless of how you’re hitting the ball.”
(Editing by Alison Williams)