Ailing US golfing legend Tiger Woods may not be competing in this week’s Open Championship but he is a regular source of advice for Australia’s world number one Jason Day.
The 28-year-old — born to an Australian father and a Filipina mother — played with Woods for the first two rounds at last year’s Open along with South African Louis Oosthuizen, who barely got a word in edgeways as the other two chatted.
The friendship has grown over the past year and Day admitted Monday he regularly turned to 14-times major champion Woods — who is still recuperating after a back operation he underwent last year — for advice.
“When I talk to him, it’s about how mentally tough he was,” said Day.
“When he didn’t have his best stuff, he would just find a way to get it done. His game plan was, ‘I just got to get this ball in the hole’.
“If it was trying to catch someone, he wanted to cut that lead down maybe one or two shots. Just cutting into that lead will show that there’s presence there.
“In the same way, if you have the lead, being able to extend that lead shows that you’re playing some pretty strong golf.”
Day, who lost eight members of his Filipino side of his family in the devastating Haiyan Typhoon in 2013 including his grandmother, says he has been spurred on also by several near misses in majors.
He has been runner-up and third in The Masters and twice a runner-up in the US Open whilst he just failed to make the three man play-off for last year’s Open Championship — though he credits missing out on that as the spark that finally saw him capture a major, the US PGA last year.
“Coming so close last year was definitely a motivational factor in that 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,” Day said.
“It was the start of my run where everything kind of changed my world, really,” added Day, who went on to take the US PGA and two FedEx tournaments following the Open.
Day, who was effectively brought up by his mother as his father died when he was 12 of stomach cancer, said all golfers dreamt of being as dominant as Woods had once been.
“You can’t win them all, and that’s just the way of life. Like I’ve always said, we got spoilt with Tiger Woods, how he dominated and did so well,” said Day, who when still a schoolboy borrowed a book off a pal on Woods.
“That’s what I’m shooting for, to be able to finish off like he did back in the day. Will I ever get to a point like that? Maybe not. But that’s what I’m shooting for right now.”