GOLF: Queensland’s Jason Day goes into tomorrow’s first round of The Open at Royal Troon with his sights firmly set on securing a place in history among the greats of the game.
Some would argue he is well on the way to achieving that status after a superb 12 months of golf that has propelled him to the world No.1 ranking, but the pain of blowing his chances in the final round of last year’s Open at St Andrews burns deep for the 28-year-old.
So too does the desire to have his name printed on the Claret Jug alongside the best – names such as Nicklaus, Woods, Palmer, Player, Watson, Ballesteros, Thomson and Hogan.
“Coming so close last year is definitely a motivational factor,” Day said yesterday at a press conference at Royal Troon.
“I would love to one day hold the Claret Jug and be able to put my name down in history with the best that have ever lived and played the game.
“This is pretty special. This is the 145th (Open) so it’s been around for a very long time. The greats have all held the Claret Jug.
“I guess the most satisfying thing you can do is to beat the best in the world on some of the most challenging golf courses that we don’t usually get the chance to play.”
Having come within centimetres of making last year’s playoff at St Andrews – alongside compatriot Marc Leishman, Louis Oosthuizen and eventual winner Zach Johnson – Day has dispelled doubts about his ability to contend at the highest level on links courses.
He admits, however, that making the transition to links layouts has taken time.
“I grew up playing some of the Melbourne sandbelt courses, but it’s not really the same as the links golf you get over here,” said last year’s US PGA Championship winner.
“It’s hard because everything is very different to what I’m used to in America.
“There you have a certain style of golf but then you come over here and you have to adapt your game to certain shots and certain ways of thinking.
“That was difficult for me at the start, but as time went on I started to really grow into loving links golf and The Open Championship. There’s nothing else like it really.”
Joining Day in the 156-player field are fellow Aussies Steven Bowditch, Greg Chalmers, Nick Cullen, Marcus Fraser, Nathan Holman, Scott Hend, Matt Jones, Marc Leishman, Rod Pampling and Adam Scott.
Day tees off at 8.25pm (AEST) tomorrow with Masters winner Danny Willett and Rickie Fowler.
The last Australian to win The Open was Greg Norman at Royal Troon in 1993.