April 18, 2013

Day focusing on positives this week

Jason Day looked down at his phone, the text message from one Aussie to another staring him in the face.

Jason Day looked down at his phone, the text message from one Aussie to another staring him in the face.

“I know you’re disappointed, but you showed a lot of class,” the message read.

Adam Scott was on the other end. The Masters champion, the first from Australia in the 77-year history of the tournament, had rallied to win in a playoff against Angel Cabrera on Sunday, and went through a fellow Aussie to do it.

It was Day who earlier in the afternoon looked poised to take the green jacket. The 25-year-old held a two-stroke lead on the final day after consecutive birdies on Nos. 13 through 15 moved him to 9 under for the tournament. But bogeys on each of the next two holes cost him, as he finished two shots out of the playoff.

“I thought about it that night,” Day recalled Wednesday in the media room at the RBC Heritage Presented by Boeing. “It’s not what I did. It’s what I did to get there that I’m mainly focusing on. I played really solid all week, and I hit a lot of good quality golf shots under pressure to give myself the chance to have a shot at winning the tournament.”

Day’s game continues to trend upward despite the recent setback. He has made all eight cuts this year and has four top-10 finishes, including a pair of third-place marks. He’s No. 12 in the FedExCup rankings, 25th in the Official World Golf Ranking and enters this week eighth on the PGA Tour money list.

Day’s most recent PGA Tour victory came at the HP Byron Nelson Championship in 2010, but he feels like this week might be a chance to end the drought. Two years ago, Day had a second-round 65 and finished tied for ninth here, and he tied for 22nd in 2010. He missed the cut in 2008, his only other year at Harbour Town.

“This is the kind of course that you need to play two or three or four times to understand how to play the course, where to hit it,” Day said. “When you’re out there the first time, you don’t know where to go and where to hit it.”

He doesn’t anticipate any trouble this time. Day has walked the course with his caddie, Colin Swatton, a Bluffton resident who lives in Belfair, and planned on mapping out his strategy with him Wednesday night.

“(We) sit down before the tournament starts and go over stats that we’ve had previously on tournaments,” he said. “This one, we know exactly which holes are problem holes for us, and we know which holes we’re playing good. We’ve just got to try to work that out.”

His latest appearance at the RBC Heritage is beginning to mirror the last one. In 2011, he arrived on Hilton Head Island fresh off a runner-up finish at the Masters before adding a top-10 finish at Harbour Town.

“I was kind of like — pretty much the same, a big whirlwind,” Day recalled. “I had no idea what was going on around me. My mind was thinking about the week prior. And I think this week I’m a lot more prepared than I was two years ago, and I finished ninth two years ago.”

He likely will have the same support from Scott this week that he provided the Masters champ in Augusta. Aussie pride, if you will.

“I texted (Scott) back and said, ’I’m glad it was you to be the first. It goes down in history forever, mate,’ ” Day said.

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