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Jason Day almost quit golf two days before the 2011 Masters. Then he nearly won it.


AUGUSTA, Ga. — Ten years in the past this week, on the eve of the 2011 Masters, Jason Day almost quit golf.

Imagine that, if you’ll. A 23-year-old simply hours from his first begin at the Augusta National Golf Club, each child’s dream, and occupied with withdrawing.

He was that discouraged, after a handful of poor event finishes.

Day’s internal circle that included former caddie Col Swatton and his spouse Ellie talked him out of it. He shot 72 in the first spherical, then went deep on Friday with a 64, beating taking part in companions Rory McIlroy and Rickie Fowler by 5 pictures.

After one other 72 in the third spherical and an even-par first 9 on Sunday, Day birdied Nos. 12, 13, 17 and 18 to put up a 12-under-par 276, a report for Masters rookies and ok for the clubhouse lead with Australian countryman Adam Scott.

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Unfortunately, Charl Schwartzel birdied the final 4 holes to lap everybody, so Day completed two pictures again. But he nonetheless has fond reminiscences of every week that almost didn’t occur.

“It was nice to be able to turn around and shoot 64 on Friday and think that I was going to quit the game of golf on Wednesday,” Day mentioned on Monday at Augusta National, after a apply spherical for his tenth Masters begin. “It was such a big difference between where I was and where I ended up being for that week.”

It took Day nearly three years to win his second PGA Tour title nevertheless it was an exciting 23-hole last in opposition to Victor Dubuisson in the Match Play.

Then, one other 12 months later, he launched certainly one of the greatest intervals of prolonged play lately on the PGA Tour with eight victories in 27 months, together with the 2015 PGA at Whistling Straits, two FedEx playoffs, the Arnold Palmer Invitational, a second Match Play crown after which a dominant efficiency in profitable wire-to-wire at the 2016 Players Championship.

He was No. 1 on the World rating and the sky was seemingly the restrict.

Day has leveled off since then and has won solely twice since his Players title, each in 2018, to offer him 12 titles for his profession.

He has gone nearly one other two years and not using a victory however mentioned his physique (which has typically failed him, by way of a sequence of again accidents) and thoughts are in place.

So good, that he mentioned he has set his sights on attending to the No. 1 spot in the world once more (he’s forty eighth this week) and staying there.

“My goal is to get back to No. 1 in the world, and I know that I’ll definitely do a lot of things differently just because I’ve been in that position beforehand,” he mentioned. “If I get back there … hopefully I can actually extend and have longevity at No. 1 like a Dustin [Johnson] or [Greg] Norman, Tiger [Woods], something like that.”

Day mentioned he has matured at the age of 33 and it’s apparent a number of questionable performances don’t trigger him to consider giving up the sport he loves — because it almost did in 2011.

He mentioned he’s not nearly as impulsive and doesn’t deal with outcomes a lot that it consumes him.

“To be driven by results to make you happy, that’s very temporary, and your emotions go up and down,” he mentioned. “To the point where you’re always constantly thinking about it.”

Day has posted a pair of excellent performances in latest months, a tie for seventh at Pebble Beach and a tie for 18th at the WGC occasion in Bradenton.

He missed the minimize at the November Masters final 12 months however tied for fifth in 2019, with 67s in the second and fourth rounds. It was his fourth profession top-10 at Augusta.

Day was requested if he felt as if he have been “playing under the radar” this week.

“I feel like the game is kind of shaping up in a nice way,” he mentioned. “Playing under the radar is nice sometimes. I’d much rather be in the spotlight because you’re playing good, but right now I’ve been here since last Friday, so I’ve had a lot of practice getting in under the belt and I’m looking forward to the week starting.”

As far as his physique goes, Day mentioned he’s in the greatest form of his life, after 16 again MRIs since turning professional.

He’s emphasizing the psychological a part of his sport, slightly than the bodily. Day mentioned he is aware of learn how to work smarter, not essentially longer — though he has been on the property since Friday.

“I’ve just got to do things differently now,” he mentioned. “I’m not 21 anymore. I’ve just got to … prepare a little bit differently. I think it has to be more on the mental side now than anything else. I’m doing a lot more visualization off the golf course than I’ve ever had in previous years, just due to the fact that the mind is probably the strongest thing that you’ll have out on the golf course, and if I can’t put in the work as much as I used to, then I’ll have to do it off the golf course and with my mental game.”

Day mentioned the course is extra to his liking in returning to April.

“Obviously last November it was really soft,” he mentioned. “If you’ve walked the golf course, it’s playing a lot firmer, which is great. I think that’s the best thing that we could possibly have is a firm golf course.”

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