Day hungry again after burnout, fall from No. 1

Charlotte (AFP) –


Jason Day hopes that after a year of burnout, injury, family drama and struggles with game and focus, the PGA Championship can help him regain the form that made him a major champion.

The former world number one from Australia, who has slid to seventh in the rankings in the past six months, enters Thursday's opening round at Quail Hollow with new confidence after a season of setbacks.

"I'm improving each and every day now and actually I'm hungry again," Day said Wednesday. "I'm very motivated right now. Like I want to win again. So I'm excited about that."

Day took three months off before the start of the year to rest his back but struggled early and lost the top ranking to American Dustin Johnson in February.

Then came cancer surgery for his mother, Dening, which pushed him to withdraw from the World Golf Championships Match Play.

"It was very difficult for me to be on the golf course and even think about actually playing," Day said.

He returned by sharing 22nd at the Masters and managed his best result of the year by losing a playoff in May at the Byron Nelson Championship. But he missed the cut at the US Open and couldn't crack the top 20 at the British Open or last week's WGC Akron event.

"I've gone through a little bit of a plateau here, and hopefully I can change that this week, especially with the past experiences that I've had competing in the PGA Championship."

- 'Very poor year' -

Day won his only major title at the 2015 PGA at Whistling Straits and finished second to American Jimmy Walker last year at Baltusrol.

"I'm looking forward to this week because I feel like I'm starting to turn the corner with regards to this plateau," Day said. "This has been a very poor year for me so hopefully I can turn it around and start playing some good golf here."

It hasn't been easy for Day to control the frustration of his fall.

"It annoys and motivates me at the same time, because I know how good I can be, because I have gotten to number one in the world," Day said.

"But I think through the latter part of last year, I got a little bit burnt out. I was trying to do too many things, and my mind got a little bit away from what really made me good and how much I practiced.

"I was exhausted at the end of it and I didn't have enough time to reflect on what I accomplished, but also to relax and try and replace all the energy that expelled. I think I will do that a lot differently."

The doubts and questions have kept Day awake at night searching for answers.

"It's frustrating to me because I'm sitting there and my game is not where it should be," he said. "You're not panicking or anything. You're just wondering why. You're up at night thinking, 'OK, what do I need to do to get back to that winning form?'

"I've just got to work hard. When it comes down to it, motivation will come and go, but the discipline has to stay. If I stay disciplined over the period, then I'll come out of it."