Thursday, July 20, 2017

Golf: Why Jason Day isn't concerned about missing practice at British Open

Jason Day is hopeful he can figure prominently at this week's British Open despite arriving at Royal Birkdale later than planned — thanks to Donald Trump.

The Australian was due to be in England on Sunday but ended up putting back his departure by 24 hours because of flight delays in New York which he put down to the US President.

"I had three weeks off before this, so I could have got in early," Day said at Birkdale on the eve of Thursday's Open first round.

"I was actually supposed to get here Sunday. And I was flying through JFK and President Trump was there and there was a bunch of delays. So I just decided to move my flight back a little bit later."

Trump attended the US Women's Open in New Jersey last weekend, and the delays allowed Day to spend an extra day at home with his young children, and be there for his son's birthday.

Day also revealed it is not the first time he has been delayed by a U.S. President.

"President Obama held me up one time flying out of Palm Springs. So I understand. It is what it is. So it was massive delays."

The 29-year-old world No. 6's change of plans meant he did not practice on the Southport links on Monday, but he believes a lack of golf going into the championship could benefit him.

"Usually I get in here to places like this early. I usually get in Thursday or Friday and play a couple of practice rounds. I did it this year at Augusta and I was just truly knackered by the time I started Thursday," said Day, whose mother Dening traces her roots to Samar.

"This week has felt a lot quicker to me. And I got some work in before I came in here. I think all in all I feel pretty ready and fresh going into tomorrow's round."

Day was presented with an award on Wednesday for ending 2016 as world No. 1. Since then he has dropped back due to poorer form, including a missed cut at last month's US Open.

PGA champion in 2015, when he also came fourth in the Open at St. Andrews, Day admits to having had his mind elsewhere at the start of this year due to a cancer scare involving his mother.

"When you feel like you're going to lose someone that is very close to you, there's nothing you want to do more than just be with them and you don't even want to think about playing golf or even think about working," said Day.

He plays with 2015 Open champion Zach Johnson and reigning Masters champion Sergio Garcia in the first two rounds as he chases a first win since the Players Championship over a year ago.

Managing expectations

By the time he eventually played Birkdale on Tuesday, the wind had switched, making the conditions different from what can be expected on Thursday.

"I played in a southeast wind, which is a totally different wind to what we normally get here. And I think everything is kind of switching for tomorrow's round. So it's going to be kind of a new golf course for me tomorrow. But regardless, I'm looking forward to trying to get back into the winner's circle this year."

Even though Day boasts the best scoring average of any player in majors since 2013, he has not won a tournament in over a year with injuries and his mother's ill health disrupting his season and causing him to tumble down the world rankings to No. 6.

"I'm trying to not give myself too many expectations and hopefully I'm there in contention on Sunday.

"It's really difficult to play against these guys. And when things are out of order and you're trying to battle other things and then you try to get to a golf course and play against the best players in the world, it makes it very, very difficult to win."

Day's last experience of a major was disappointing. He missed the cut at the US Open after an opening-day 79, a round so bad it prompted his close friend Tiger Woods to text offering advice.

"I had a chat to him. It was more about my putting stroke. So obviously it's great to have a set of eyes like Tiger's, especially who's one of the best clutch putters of all time, to be able to kind of see on TV what you're doing wrong. So just trying to tidy up a little bit and hopefully I putt a little better this week." — With a report from Reuters