Jason Day has declared his troublesome neck and back issues are as good as they could be heading to Augusta after a final day fade-out in Houston which cost the Aussie a first win in two years.
The former world number one went in to the last round of the Houston Open a shot off the lead but had to settle for a share of seventh, six shots behind the winner Carlos Ortis after a closing round of one-over 71 on a course fellow Aussie Adam Scott called “relentless”.
Day has been copping questions about his health ever since his withdrawal from the CJ Cup last month, just one hole in to the final round, after hurting his neck.
He has now completed two full tournaments since retuning and despite conceding he has to “balance” practice and playing, as well as working on a swing change, while also catering to his physical issues, Day said he has had no recent pain and would hit the Masters this week as well as he could hope.
The 32-year-old has a terrific record at the Masters, which is being played in November for the first time. Day has three top-5 finishes in his eight starts at Augusta, including a tie for fifth last year.
“I feel like I‘ve had that question a lot in my career (about his health). Yeah, I feel pretty good. I just try to balance out the body and I feel pretty good overall. No pain,” Day said.
“The form’s been — it’s been very inconsistent obviously because I’m trying to change my swing a little bit just to try and help the back out. I guess I’m stuck in between patterns right now, what I want to feel, my body just won’t handle it and sometimes it just compensates elsewhere.
“That’s why it happened to my neck at CJ. I’ve got to look at it this way, I’ve just got to be very smart about certain shots that I want to try and hit because if I do it over and over again, sooner or later something goes wrong and that’s why you see a little bit of inconsistency there.
“I’ve just got to be patient with it and just try to work through it and hopefully I’ll get to where I want to see it, how I see it and how I want to hit it and the consistency will come back in the game.”
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Scott will hit Augusta without the reconnaissance mission he was hoping to complete, a plan which went out the window when he tested positive to COVID-19.
He rounded out his preparations with a closing 68 in Houston to finish tied for 32nd, and said the test of golf the redesigned Memorial Park course provided, rather than the course itself, was a good test heading to another major championship.
“I think this course, because it is quite relentless as far as it‘s long and it’s a bit of a brute, is testing the patience and the focus and that’s always tested at a major championship,” Scott said as he exited Houston.
“There’s nothing much resembling Augusta National here, they’re very different kinds of golf courses, but that long day out on the course where you’re required to hit a lot of tough shots is similar and that’s testing the mental side of it very much.”
Fellow Aussies Marc Leishman and Cameron Smith skipped the Houston event and will got in to Augusta without a tournament in two weeks. Amateur Lukas Michel rounds out the Australian contingent playing at this week’s Masters.
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