Jason Day is targeting Tiger Woods’ spot above him on the world rankings after getting his wish to play alongside the former No.
1 this week.
Returning from the back surgery that kept him out of the Masters and US Open, Woods is teeing up in the US PGA Tour event he also hosts and has been grouped with Australian Day and American young gun Jordan Spieth for the opening two rounds.
At world No.6, Day is just a rankings fraction behind No.5 Woods, who lost the No.1 spot to Adam Scott while recuperating.
Playing at the Congressional Country Club where he was US Open runner-up 2011, Day is happy to have a fit Woods to compete against – making it even sweeter if he can overtake 14-time major winner in the rankings for the first time since March 2012.
Day climbed from No.7 to No.6 last week when Rory McIlroy missed the cut in Europe and he has made no secret of his desire to become the youngest Australian to hold the No.1 spot.
While Scott has a reasonable lead on countryman Day, the 26-year-old is just over 0.1 of a percentage point behind Woods and less than half a point from No.3 Bubba Watson.
“I am watching the rankings. When I saw Rory missed the cut (last week) it really gave me a sense of huge motivation for last weekend to play really well and climb the leaderboard to have a chance to pass him,” Day said.
“Now I’m looking forward to contending and hopefully winning this week.”
Day is coming off a good finish at the US Open, where he tied for fourth.
“I am excited to play with Tiger and get a first-hand look at how he’s feeling and playing and hopefully make a move past him on the world rankings,” Day said.
“The expectations are pretty high right now, so I’ve been putting in the hard work and doing the right things.”
Woods, a two-time winner of the event, has lowered his usually lofty expectations due to his injury-enforced layoff.
Having been out since March he had initially targeted a return at next month’s British Open.
“If this wasn’t the foundation and our impact that we can have with kids, I probably would not have played (this week),’ Woods said.
“I healed extremely fast, thanks to my physios, and all my nutrition and all the different things that we did … Obviously, I’m going to get stronger as time goes on.
“Winning is the ultimate goal. It’s just that it’s going to be a little bit harder this time.
“I just haven’t had the amount of preps and reps that I would like, but I’m good enough to play and I am going to give it a go.”
Stuart Appleby, Robert Allenby, Steven Bowditch, Greg Chalmers, Geoff Ogilvy, Mark Leishman, Aaron Baddeley, Brady Watt and Oliver Goss join Day as Australians in the field.
As an added incentive this week, the best four players, not otherwise exempt, who finish inside the top 12 will qualify for the British Open.