Thursday, July 14, 2016

Not lacking for motivation, Day driven by Firestone finish thud

World No. 1 Jason Day isn’t lacking for motivation coming into the British Open.

Day, who said ahead of the U.S. Open that he had never felt more stressed, yearns to extend his lead atop the Official World Golf Ranking. He wants to be No. 1, and he’s anxious about how long he can hang on to that edge. Perhaps he should be concerned.

Dustin Johnson is gaining ground on Day, and quickly. Johnson won the U.S. Open to pick up his first major, and then he backed it up with a win at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. Johnson is now No. 2 in the world, albeit by a slim margin over Jordan Spieth.

Even if Day can’t quite hear Johnson’s footsteps up the world ranking ladder, the Aussie can draw plenty of motivation from two weeks ago at Firestone Country Club. Day let the win slip through his hands, with a bogey on the 15th hole, followed by a chances-crushing double-bogey 7 on the 667-yard par-6 16th hole. The 28-year-old has repeatedly said he’s motivated by failure. He’s got a fresh carrot.

“It sucked,” Day said Monday. “It was really bad. I hated losing. It was a terrible way to lose, and it was frustrating and disappointing. But things like this, you can’t win them all, and that’s just the way of life.”

As if clinging to No. 1 and coming up short in Ohio were not motivation enough, Day then has the heartache that came from ending up a shot short of the three-man, four-hole aggregate playoff from last year’s Open.

“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.

If Day is to become the first Australian winner of the Open since Greg Norman in 1993, he will have to end the American run at Royal Troon. Each of the last six times the Scottish links has hosted the Open, an American has won the title.

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