Bill Nichols

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Byron Nelson preview: Q&A with Jason Day, defending champ

Australian Jason Day , a Fort Worth resident, won the 2010 HP Byron Nelson Championship, and finished the season with five top-10s and $2.9 million in earnings. At 23, he is considered one of the best young players on Tour. He showed why at the Masters in April, when he tied for second in his first start at Augusta National.

You got your first PGA Tour win at the Nelson last year. What was the experience like?

I made it very interesting last year. I was very nervous. It was my first chance to win a tournament on the PGA Tour. I didn’t really understand how to handle my nerves under pressure. I knew that I had a good swing and it could potentially hold up under pressure, but unfortunately it didn’t. I got lucky with Blake Adams hitting into the water. He pretty much gave me the tournament.

What did that victory do for your career? Did it change your routine in any way?

You can just look at my results after the tournament. I went on to have the best year of my career. Just under $3 million in earnings, and I contended in a couple of late tournaments. I played well in the PGA, played well the second week of the FedEx Cup playoffs, and it kind of fed into this year as well.

What do you like about the TPC Four Seasons at Las Colinas?

I absolutely love the course. I like how tough it is. The tougher it is, the better players you’re going to have winning this tournament. You just look at the past champions that have won this tournament — there has been a mixture of long hitters and straight hitters, but they’ve all been solid players. Overall the course fits my eye.

The Australians had a great Masters with you, Adam Scott and Geoff Ogilvy in contention on Sunday. Was it cool to get a call from Greg Norman afterward?

He’s helped the development of my game and Scottie’s game as well. He wanted one of us to win. It was special to have him call, with the way it ended for him a couple of times. For him to call and congratulate us was fantastic. He was very gracious. That showed a lot about his character.

You moved up to No. 24 in the World Ranking after the Masters (now 20th). Does that have special significance to you?

It means that there are 23 guys ranked higher than me. I’ve worked hard. I’ve always voiced my goal, and it’s always been to get to No. 1 at one stage in my life. Right now I’m in a good spot. If I really work hard at it and I really perform well, I’ve got the real potential to get to the top 10 of the world.

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