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Jason Day motivated by near misses at Open Championship

Australia's Jason Day during a press conference at Royal Troon Golf Club in South Ayrshire on Monday
Picture by PA 
Phil Casey

WORLD number one Jason Day will be motivated by failures old and new as he looks to claim a second major title in the 145th Open Championship.

Day finished a shot outside the three-man play-off won by Zach Johnson at St Andrew's last year, sparking a run which saw him win seven of his next 17 events. That included a maiden major title and record 20 under par total in the US PGA Championship at Whistling Straits, as well as victories in two FedEx Cup events which took him top of the world rankings for the first time.

However, the 28-year-old Australian arrived in Scotland on the back of a disappointing performance in the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, when he led by one with four holes to play but bogeyed the 15th and double bogeyed the 16th.

"Coming so close last year was definitely a motivational factor in that I would love to one day hold the Claret Jug and be able to put my name down in history with the best that have ever lived and played the game," Day said.

"It was the start of my run where everything kind of changed my world, really."

Asked if he could remember another time when he had been motivated by failure, Day added without hesitation: "Two weeks ago. Yeah, that was pretty motivating.

"To be honest, we're not going to win every single one. Even though I don't like losing, it was great to be able to learn something from that and turn this into what I would say is a learning experience and try to move forward and get better from it.

"At the end of the day, I'm just trying to get as good as I can and the only way to do that is to learn from failure, and the way you look at it is not in a negative way. You have to look at it in a positive light that, okay, I did this for a reason. I've got to try to get better and move on. If I can do that, then you can't do anything but go up.

"It sucked. It was really bad. I hated losing. It was a terrible way to lose, and it was frustrating and disappointing. But things like this, you can't win them all, and that's just the way of life. Like I've always said, we got spoilt with Tiger Woods, how he dominated and did so well. That's what I'm shooting for, to be able to finish off like he did back in the day. Will I ever get to a point like that? Maybe not. But that's what I'm shooting for right now."

Day and Woods have become good friends in recent years, with Day eager to seek advice from the 14-time major winner, who is currently sidelined after three back operations in the space of 19 months: "When I talk to him, it's about how mentally tough he was," Day added.

"When he didn't have his best stuff, he would just find a way to get it done. His game plan was, 'I just got to get this ball in the hole'. If it was trying to catch someone, he wanted to cut that lead down maybe one or two shots. Just cutting into that lead will show that there's presence there. In the same way, if you have the lead, being able to extend that lead shows that you're playing some pretty strong golf."

Despite missing out on the Claret Jug last year, Day credits his experience that week at St Andrews with giving him the belief that he could win major titles after several near misses. After finishing second in the Masters and US Open in 2011, Day was third and second in the same events in 2013 and eighth in the US PGA, before coming fourth in the 2014 US Open and ninth the following year, despite suffering from attacks of vertigo at Chambers Bay.

"I just felt really calm," Day explained.

"It was the Open Championship, but I really wasn't thinking that it was a major championship, and I really didn't feel like it was like any other day. It was just a strange feeling that I just felt so calm about things, and no matter what happened, it was going to be okay.

"I think subconsciously I just finally got over the hurdle that it's your time to start winning and play well. And I think I finally found that belief in myself to be able to really say, 'You're a good player. You deserve to win these if you put yourself in these opportunities."'

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