Jason Day, McIlroy, Scott, Spieth on climbing mountains


Ahead of THE PLAYERS, Jason Day, Adam Scott, Rory McIlroy, and Jordan Spieth reflect on the challenges of being the world’s top-ranked golfer.

Jason Day, Rory McIlroy, Adam Scott and Jordan Spieth, all past PLAYERS champions, have also been No. 1 in the world. In their pre-tournament comments to the media at TPC Sawgrass on Tuesday, these champions talked about the difficulty of getting to and staying No. 1.

All direct quotations are taken from my notes of the players’ media interviews. Official transcripts have not yet been released by the PGA TOUR.

Jason Day

Jason Day compared getting back to No. 1 as climbing a mountain a second time.

"You’re climbing that mountain again, and do you really want to climb that mountain. Do you really want to go, you know, I’m kind of happy being down at base camp right now, and base camp might be three in the world, maybe 20 in the world. It may be 50 in the world."

Base camp became a big topic after that.  Everybody got the analogy.

Day said he discovered it a demanding challenge to stay at the top of the OWGR.

"All that stuff was getting pretty hard mentally more than physical, just the mental demand that you have on you, the expectations, and it’s very, very easy to get burnt out in a sense. “I would love to win every week, but unfortunately, it’s very, very difficult to do."

Off course issues can crop up, like the ones Day had with his mother’s illness, and the issues he had with his back.

"It’s really funny, in my position, to be able to talk about rebuilding, and it’s not in a sense rebuilding to get my game back to where it is. It’s more so, I think you’re rebuilding to try and get back to the top of the world."

Rory McIlroy

Rory McIlroy, seeming to agree with Day, observed, “I have always felt like getting to the top of the mountain is easier than saying there.”

As another former No. 1, McIlroy would know.

“I think it takes as much hard work to stay there as it does to get all the way up,” he said. Day elaborated, adding that everyone’s career has ebbs and flows, and that just needs to be accepted.

"There’s going to be some times when it isn’t quite what you want, and it’s not going your way, but there’s going to be other times when you get on a run, and you have to ride that as much as you can."

McIlroy also compared the process of staying on the top of the OWGR to climbing Everest, saying you certainly don’t want to fall all the way to the bottom, but you fall to a base camp level and then try again.

Adam Scott

Jason Day
Adam Scott of Australia. Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports /

Adam Scott

Adam Scott took the conversation a bit further when he speculated that getting to No. 1 was a dream for every young golfer.

"For me, it was the better part of two-and-a-half years of just building good result after good result and just chipping away to be consistently better than everybody for a while. We were spoiled in some ways watching Tiger just breeze along at No. 1 for 10-12 years."

Jordan Spieth

Jordan Spieth, who was very young when he reached the No. 1 status, was very reflective and philosophical as he talked about reaching the OWGR pinnacle.

"Anything you that you do at any point in life, when you get to where you’ve reached that ultimate goal, where you’ve had something you’re pushing yourself towards, and then you get there, how do you reset it? How do you set a new boundary to, a barrier to break through? I think that’s difficult to do."

More from Pro Golf Now

He explained that the goal was to take the target of No. 1 that was on his back for while and put that target on something else to chase, something else to conquer.

As far as dislodging Dustin Johnson from the top spot, Jason Day pointed out that it was pretty difficult to pass a guy who was hitting drives 350 down the middle, hitting greens with a wedge and making all the putts.

In other words, they’ve got some work to do to get back to their former No. 1 spots.

Next: THE PLAYERS: 5 bold predictions

Be sure to check back in with us throughout THE PLAYERS Championship as we bring you all the happenings from the Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass and be sure to give us a like on the Pro Golf Now Facebook page and follow us on Twitter at @ProGolfNow.