ERIN, Wis. – Jason Day wants to be tested. The former World No. 1 said he thrives on being pushed to the limit. If the USGA wants the winning score at the 117th U.S. Open to be 10-over par, he’s fine with that.
“There’s no complaints from me,” said Day, sounding like a man who’s ready for anything Erin Hills blows his way.
Day, 29, has competed in six U.S. Opens and finished outside the top nine only once. He was runner up in his championship debut in 2011 and again in 2013.
The USGA’s style of golf clearly suits him.
Day had played only one round at Erin Hills when he sat for his pre-tournament press conference. He planned to play nine holes on Tuesday and another nine on Wednesday.
“I’ve done a lot of walking out there this week and taken a lot of photos on my phone, from each angle,” said Day, “around every green, off the tees and off the second shots just so that I can look at it every single night and go over it and see what kind of visual I’ll have coming off every tee, every second shot.”
Day appreciates the USGA’s commitment to testing not only a player’s physical capabilities, but mental strength as well. Everyone has a breaking point, he said, and he relishes the opportunity to see how his mind and body will respond.
“Those moments are the moments when you learn the most about yourself,” he said, “whether you can actually push more than you’ve ever pushed before in your life.”
The 2015 U.S. Open champion, Jordan Spieth, agrees.
“Most of all, (the U.S. Open) certainly tests the mental game more than any other place in golf,” said Spieth. “If you came for a stress-free tournament, you didn’t come to the right place.”
Coming into the year’s second major, Day’s ability to focus inside the ropes is nothing like it was early in 2017. His mother, Dening, underwent lung-cancer surgery in the spring. The fear and uncertainty during that time made golf nearly impossible.
Day, who has dealt with his share of injuries and setbacks over the years, said nothing had prepared him for it.
“It don’t wish it upon anyone,” he said.
Dening’s most recent scans are being sent to doctors, but Day said she’s doing much better.
Leaving her devoted son free to focus on this week’s upcoming test – with the added bonus of perspective.