SPRINGFIELD, N.J. -- Jason Day figures he's 12 to 18 months from peaking physically. That according to his new trainer and the annual body scans he undergoes.
Couple that with his golf game, which is in peak form as well, and Day could hold the No. 1 ranking for much longer than his current stretch of 17 weeks. But even Day, who calls himself "very greedy when it comes to winning," can't envision being the world's top-ranked golfer for as long as Tiger Woods.
"He had 683 weeks at No. 1. It's staggering," Day said Tuesday at Baltusrol Golf Club. "It's an absolute joke. I've got a lot of work to do."
Day made a brief swing through New Jersey on Wednesday, stopping at Baltusrol for PGA Championship media day. Day hasn't yet played the course, which last hosted the PGA in 2005, but took notes intently as club officials described the changes to Baltusrol since Phil Mickelson won 11 years ago.
For Day, who won the 2015 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin, breaking through prompted a rejuvenated approach to golf. He has won three times on the PGA Tour this season, including at The Players Championship, and has top-10 finishes at the Masters and U.S. Open.
Despite an opening-round 76, Day nearly clawed back into contention last weekend in the U.S. Open at Oakmont with a final-round 66. A double-bogey at the 17th hole derailed Day's run, but did produce his fifth consecutive top-10 finish at a major.
Now, Day, 28, is building his career on a fitness base that he expects to crest during the 2017-18 season. After fighting through several injuries, not to mention a pudgy face he used to hide with a beard, Day says he wants to increase his weight slightly (from 185 to 190-95), lower his body fat and foster injury prevention to continue his career until he's at least 40 years old.
"I was really sick and tired of getting injured," Day said. "I'm just trying to extend the longevity of my career. The biggest thing is, if you want it still, you'll do everything you need to do to make sure you extend your career."
Day, who counts Woods among his mentors, said the former world No. 1's training regimen inspired him as a young golfer in Australia. He read about Woods' early wake-up calls to practice and began getting up at 5 a.m. himself.
But health issues have been part of Day's career for years. At last year's U.S. Open, Day collapsed near a green during the third round because of vertigo. He nearly withdrew three times but continued the round, shooting a 2-under 68 to tie for the lead after 54 holes.
"From the vertigo, I found out how far I can push myself physically and also mentally," he said.
Day also dealt with a thumb injury in 2014 that he thought might threaten his career. He missed six weeks of the season because of the thumb hyperextension, which caused bone bruising and required three cortisone shots.
Another health concern could prevent Day from competing in the Olympics. Day said he's undecided whether he will represent Australia in Rio de Janeiro in August because of concerns about the Zika virus.
Rory McIlroy announced Tuesday he will not participate in the Olympics, and Jordan Spieth said at the U.S. Open he remained undecided. Day has not announced whether he will play.
The Olympics come two weeks after Day is scheduled to defend his PGA Championship at Baltusrol. It's also part of a hectic stretch, in which two majors (the Open Championship and PGA) will be held within a three-week span.
"It's a tough one, going from trying to represent your country and trying to win a gold medal but also understanding it's a life decision you have to make," Day said.
WHEN: July 28-31
WHERE: Baltusrol Golf Club, Springfield, N.J.
IF YOU GO: Tickets are sold out for the final round. They are available for the practice and first three competitive rounds, though the weekend is nearing a sellout. Go to www.pgachampionship.com for tickets.
This article was written by Mark Wogenrich from The Morning Call and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.
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