Now that he’s broken through for his maiden major, Jason Day is hoping the floodgates will open – and he knows that means dominating the battle of golf’s new Big Three.
Day is relishing more Sunday shootouts with world No.1 Jordan Spieth and excited about forging a special long-time rivalry with the American phenom and Northern Irish superstar Rory McIlroy.
The newly crowned US PGA champion acknowledges it won’t be easy trying to reel in “two guys playing some phenomenal golf” in order to scale the rankings summit.
But the emphatic manner of his record-setting victory at Whistling Straits, after a patient and at times exasperating wait to join golf’s major circle, has vindicated Day’s belief he’s on track to fulfill his career goal of reaching world No.1.
“What I’m doing right now is working but, to be honest, I think I need to work harder,” Day said in a teleconference on Wednesday.
“I need to really understand what I need to improve on and really knuckle down so that I can come back and improve in that area and pick up one shot or maybe two a round, whereas before I was losing shots.
“If I plan it right and do it the correct way, I couldn’t put a timing on it but if I keep playing and improving each and every year and playing like I am right now, it won’t be too long.”
With three previous runner-up finishes at a major, a third at the Masters in 2013 – when he led by two shots with three holes to play only to watch on as Adam Scott reigned – and a painful one-shot-away fourth at last month’s British Open, Day knows he could have already been a multiple major winner.
“But all these things that have happened to me have happened for a reason. It wasn’t my time and I understand that,” he said.
“But it was all that frustration and heartache that fuelled it even more. Every time I went through that and got so close, I knew I was doing the right things.
“I just had to keep moving forward and learn.
“Now since I’ve done it, I don’t know if it will open up the floodgates. I’m really hoping it does.”
Day’s next crack at a major will be at Augusta National in April and he has no doubts having the monkey off his back will help.
“It’s going to help the way I manage myself out on the golf course, how I prepare, mentally prepare as well, knowing I am now a major champion,” he said.
“The confidence is really high right now and I’m really looking forward to getting to Augusta next year because with the previous finishes that I’ve had there, I’ve got a really good shot next year.
“The mindset has changed is to a point where I feel like I’m one of the best players in the world now.”
With the FedEx playoffs to come, Day and Spieth may well battle it out again this year down the stretch like they did on Sunday.
But Day says the chance to go head to head with Spieth in a genuine matchplay environment at the Presidents Cup in Korea in October would be something else.
“I would absolutely love to play Jordan in the singles,” Day said.
“There would be a lot of pressure. I feel like it would be very exciting because we’re both very fierce competitors and we both want to win so bad.”