Augusta: Jason Day is confident of his chances for a breakthrough in first major triumph at this week’s Masters despite being sidelined for the past six weeks by a left thumb injury.
The 26-year-old Australian said Monday that his thumb has fully healed and his game is strong headed into the first major of the season starting Thursday at Augusta National.
“It’s fine,” said Day, who won the World Golf Championships Match Play crown in February in his most recent start.
“I had a cortisone injection into it last Monday. Had about a week off after the injection and everything has been progressing nicely. There’s no pain. I’m taping it just as a precaution, so you’ll see some tape on my thumb and I’ve been icing it a lot.
“To be able to swing pain free now is great. So I’ve been here since last Wednesday practicing and playing. I’ve played 36 holes here over the last four days and the hand’s coming up nicely. I’m really looking forward to a nice, solid start.”
Day, the world number four who could overtake Tiger Woods atop the rankings with a win this week, beat Frenchman Victor Dubuisson in 23 holes in the Match Play final and was a co-runner-up at Torrey Pines in his first event of the year.
While he has not played since those events, he has been far from idle, honing his game with the Masters’ winner’s green jacket as his goal after finishing third last year at Augusta.
“This week, you really need your short game, so I’ve just been shelling a lot of chip shots and bunker shots and doing a lot of putting and speed putting, because the short game is where you win tournaments, especially this tournament,” he said.
“The course sets up nice for me. I hit the ball pretty long and I hit the ball pretty high. With how the greens are, the undulation on the greens, the speed of the greens, you definitely need to hit it a lot higher than lower.”
Day, a US Open runner-up in 2011 and 2013, also shared second at the 2011 Masters.
“I know that I’m doing the right things that I need to do on the course because I’ve had some good success in such a short career at the Masters,” Day said.
“So as long as I just keep doing the prep and work hard, hopefully it will fall my way. I feel like I have a really good game plan in place and I’ve just got to go out and do the work.”
Day has been frustrated by the thumb setback because his game was rounding into top form when he was forced to sit out.
“It’s more frustrating for me because just coming off the WGC win at the Match Play, I was playing some pretty good golf,” Day said.
Day watched last year as Adam Scott became the first Australian to win the Masters, ending one of his dreams.
“I always wanted to be the first Australian to win it. Obviously Scotty got there first,” Day said.
“But I’m happy to be the second.”
Day, ranked fourth in the world, could dethrone Tiger Woods to become world number one with a Masters victory.
“I’m just not trying to think of that,” Day said. “My biggest thing is just to really focus on myself. I just need to go out and not really think about the outcomes that could possibly happen.
“That’s what mental toughness is, is to be able to stay in the present and really focus on what you need to do to produce the result in the long run.”