No sleep ’til… As Jason Day finds way back, he longs for restless nights

Friday was marathon day at the WM Phoenix Open.

In the case of Jason Day, the 35-year-old Aussie hit 26 holes, hitting three birdies, one ghost and all other pairs, battling strong winds, crowds and slow play. Although the field is still catching up after Thursday morning’s freeze, Day reached his milestone midway through with two rounds 6 short and four shots short of leader Scotty Scheffler.

“I’m glad I’m in the house,” Day breathed, “and I’m going to rest.”

He hopes he will need some extra rest.

In an ideal world, Day would sleep on Saturday night like he was renting an apartment in the 16th hole of TPC Scottsdale.

When Day enjoyed his time at the top of the official world golf rankings – 51 weeks to be exact, the last time he abdicated in February 2017 – he won a lot and slept little.

“Usually when I’m in the mix on Sundays, I don’t sleep that night,” Day said. “I miss that. I’ve been sleeping really well for the past two years. And it’s like Saturday night, it’s not what I want to do. I want to stay awake.”

Day won five times in 2015 and the following year he won three titles to rank among the other seven top 10s. But in recent years he has been in freefall in the world rankings. As his body, especially his back, broke down and his game followed suit, Day dropped to No. 175 last fall. Once the top player on the Tour in terms of hitting, Day has been out of the top 60 for three consecutive seasons. His mental game had ceased to be a force, and the death of his mother Dening in March of the previous year had knocked him down even more; Day missed three cuts in a row when he returned to The Players and then took a five-week hiatus.

The only time he usually wakes up at 1am these days is when he’s on the phone with his over-year-old instructor, Chris Como, discussing the latest swing idea that will let Day swing freely again.

Initially, all body movements were reduced to relieving tension from Day’s back. Now it’s “little little things of little, tiny, little changes.”

“It’s like the left hand is turned inward on impact,” explains Day. “But also just make sure the forearms kind of roll over, but keep the left hand inside and the right under it. But then it’s all these things with the pattern of letting go and getting up and getting out of the way.

“Yes, I could go, I could talk for hours and hours. I’m so obsessed…”

Day reflects on ‘humiliating’ trip back to golf

Day reflects on 'humiliating' trip back to golf

Day admits the comeback is still a work in progress, but it’s been nice to tie together some good results in recent months – T-8 at the Shriners, T-11 at the CJ Cup and T-7 at the Farmers, along with three other top players. 25 s in the last seven starts.

He also returned to the top 100 in the world at No. 91 and started this week in the top 40 of the Tour in three hitting categories – tees (40th), approach (18th) and putting (39- e).

“It was really hard to change the swing and compete here,” Day said. “… I had to make these changes because of my body. Unfortunately, I’m going through a testing phase right now, trying to change that during the competition. It may be difficult. Because you wake up some days it’s like it’s absolutely fine and perfect, and some days it’s just, you know, like, I mean, the first round in the second here, it’s just completely different. It’s amazing. But I’m just working hard, trying to do my job the best I can.”

For Day, this means hitting a fade that is much weaker than John Ram’s bullet.

“And that’s okay,” Day adds. “I agree with it”.

Full WM Phoenix Open Results

On Friday, Day shared a story from a few weeks ago on The American Express where he once got lost while leaving the golf course. He ended up spending half an hour just sitting on the side of the road and looking at the mountains.

It’s the perfect microcosm of what Day has been through since his last Wells Fargo championship win… in 2018.

“I felt like no matter what I did, I just swerved the wrong way every time,” Day explained. “I struggled with my body. Psychologically struggling. Dealing with the death of my mother. Fight with many things. I think that finally over the last few months I feel like things have finally settled down and I can really focus on golf and play golf and really just try to do my best.

Yes, I mean it’s hard. Because you become the best player in the world, everyone kind of knows you and does it. And then suddenly, you know, you kind of scratch him, trying to make cuts. This can be a difficult process.

“This is not an easy fall. … Right now I’m just trying to recuperate.”

Literally, he was tired of dreaming.


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