Jason Day vows to handle World No. 1 ranking 'differently' next time

AP Photo/Chris Carlson

Jason Day vows to handle World No. 1 ranking 'differently' next time

PGA Tour

Jason Day vows to handle World No. 1 ranking 'differently' next time

CHARLOTTE – Being at the top can be a hard deal – a feeling Jason Day didn’t exactly deny. But the Aussie is also eager to get back there.

Day enters this week’s PGA Championship at Quail Hollow hoping to find something that can uplift what has been a difficult 2017 campaign. The 29-year-old hasn’t won since last year’s Players Championship and he’s rarely contended in the meantime. There was an exciting runner-up performance at last year’s PGA and a T-4 at the Barclays.

But after that? Just two top 10s in 17 starts. In that span, Day has dropped from World No. 1 to No. 7.

“It annoys and motivates me at the same time to be honest,” Day said of the decline. “Because I know how good I can be, because I have got to No. 1 in the world.”

Of course, Day’s drop comes in a year in which he’s dealt with his mother’s fight with cancer. Without that going on in the background, his path could be eased going forward.

But Day pointed the finger squarely at himself when explaining why he hasn’t been able to capture the form that saw him win eight times (including a major) between 2015 and ’16 on his way to No. 1.

The Aussie felt he didn’t handle well what came with attaining the world’s top ranking – mainly increased demand on time from media and fans.

“The hardest thing for me when I was No. 1 was to say no to people, and I felt like I needed to give people time because I’m here,” Day said. “I was kind of exhausted at the end of it and I didn’t have enough time to, I guess, reflect on what I accomplished, but also give me time, myself time, to kind of relax and try and replace all the energy that expelled during the week or the year that I had.”

Day didn’t resent the attention, in fact he hopes to play well this week to get back some of the press he earned during his two-year run to No. 1.

But if he does return to that top spot, Day hopes to have more of a management plan in place. He says he wants to remain accessible to media and fans in this scenario … as much as possible.

Day says a return to No. 1 would entail more time at home and arriving to big tournaments later than he’s done at times in the past order to avoid the distractions that come with a higher profile. He actually didn’t officially register for the 2017 PGA Championship until Wednesday morning, and he only played one practice round in last year’s runner-up performance at Baltusrol.

If the crush of attention does come again, it seems Day is at a greater peace with it this time.

“I would definitely handle it differently once I get back there,” Day said. “I think I know what I expect; if I get back to No. 1 in the world, I know how to feel and what it feels like, and I know exactly when to say no and say yes.”

Still, that’s a significant hill to climb. For now, Day just needs to focus on one good performance to get him back on track.

The Aussie is frustrated with his form this year and isn’t looking to undertake an overhaul any time soon. That doesn’t mean his struggles are not weighing on his mind.

“You’re not panicking or anything, you’re just wondering why,” Day said. “You’re up at night thinking about, OK, what do I need to do to get back to that winning form?”

Once Day can solve that riddle, he’ll be prepared for what comes next.

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