Jason Day needs to stay consistent to defend title at THE PLAYERS

Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports /

Can Jason Day defend his title at THE PLAYERS Championship?

Jason Day returns to the Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass this week in an attempt to become the first player in history to repeat as winner of THE PLAYERS Championship. The former world No. 1 has played in eight events this season, notching four top-25 finishes and a top-10 while missing two cuts, the most recent coming at the Zurich Classic in New Orleans just two weeks ago. Granted, this was a different type of event but the fact that he and Rickie Fowler missed the mark was a little surprising. His best finish this season came in late January at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am where he placed fifth shooting a 72-hole total of 275.

Day struggled at times during The Masters, still managing to finish in a tie for 22nd, but his recent inconsistency has been an issue. He shot rounds of 74 and 76 in the first two days to make the cut on the number and then come back with a 69 on Saturday playing alongside Augusta National member Jeff Knox. He finished with a 71 on Sunday to finish at 2-over, 11 shots out of the playoff between Sergio Garcia and Justin Rose.

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However, a possible explanation (and the most obvious) for Day’s inconsistent driving and scoring could be his waning focus during tournaments, obviously due to what has happened in his personal life regarding his mother. Day’s mother has lung cancer, which he revealed following a withdrawal from the WGC-Match Play after just six holes of his opening-round match with Pat Perez, a tournament where he was the defending champion.

Day is averaging just over 300 yards off the tee, good for 26th on the PGA Tour thus far, but his driving accuracy has dropped to just below 55 percent this season, which currently ranks 177th. That obviously means that he has struggled to maintain the direction of his drives. While Day is able to hit it far off the tee, the direction of his shots has been hard for him to control.

Day has also dropped considerably in his greens in regulation percentage from the beginning of the year. In January, he was hitting the green almost 82 percent of the time and was near the top of the list in GIR but heading into THE PLAYERS, Day is at 66.16, tied for 109th in that vital statistic. That just won’t work at Sawgrass.

If Jason Day is going to defend his title this week, he’s going to need to be sharp off the tee box and his approach shots. He will also need to be more consistent and focused on his putting as his strokes gained: putting percentage has fluctuated throughout this season. Simply put, Day has to be at his best, which through his swing issues and personal troubles has been hard to do for him lately.

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Be sure to check back in with us all week for all the latest updates from THE PLAYERS Championship at TPC Sawgrass. And don’t forget to head on over and like the Pro Golf Now Facebook page and follow us on Twitter at @ProGolfNow.