CHICAGO: Jason Day has been making golf look simple lately but, after claiming the world number one ranking he had long coveted, revealed that it had been anything but easy.
“It’s been very, very difficult for me to try and downplay getting to number one, because I’ve really wanted to reach this goal for a long time now,” said the 27-year-old Australian after another convincing win in the US PGA Tour’s BMW Championship catapulted him to the top.
His fifth win of the season has him poised atop the FedEx Cup playoff standings — in pole position to seize the $10 million playoff bonus at the season-ending Tour Championship.
But it is the number one ranking that resonates with Day, even though he is the third man in three weeks to claim it after Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy traded the top spot.
Day said it was a dream he had nursed since childhood, when he was inspired by the exploits of Tiger Woods.
But Day was chided as a presumptuous upstart when, as a young pro, he told a group of reporters on a conference call that he believed he could topple Woods from the summit.
Day admitted on Sunday that he was unprepared for the criticism he received then. “It wasn’t the response that I was expecting,” he said. “I mean, I expected to get a little bit, but not the response that I got from practically everyone.”
As his career progressed, and Day’s undeniable talent failed to yield a major title, the naysayers gained steam.
But all that changed in August, when he built on the momentum of another major near-miss at the British Open to win the Canadian Open, then make his major breakthrough at Whistling Straits.
Now with four wins in his last six events, he’s on top of the world — and can afford to be magnanimous when contemplating his earlier critics.