KAPALUA, Hawaii - Among Jason Day's goals for 2011 is to be ranked among the top 20 in the world. Being mentioned more frequently among the top 20-something golfers in the world would be nice, too.
"Sometimes I feel a bit overlooked, yeah. But you know what? I can change that myself," Day said Wednesday as he geared up for the PGA Tour's season opener, the Hyundai Tournament of Champions, which starts today.
While more celebrated young guns like Rory McIlroy, Ryo Ishikawa and PGA Tour Rookie of the Year Rickie Fowler are absent from Kapalua Resort's Plantation Course, Day, 23, is the youngest player in this week's field, having qualified with his first victory in the HP Byron Nelson Classic.
And it's a new Day who tees it up today after surgery Oct. 14 corrected longtime sinus problems that caused chronic infections and prevented him from ever playing at peak performance. Doctors removed a bone from the left side of his sinus cavity and corrected a deviated septum on the right side of his nose.
"It's 1,000 percent better that I was," said Day, who ended the year 38th in the world rankings. "I never knew any other way, but now I'm getting good air into my lungs, a lot more oxygen. I can work out harder. And I think it will help me down the stretch in tournaments when the stress is high and you need to be at your best."
He might be onto something there. Day's 71.94 final round scoring average ranked 154th on tour and was almost two strokes higher than his scoring average before the cut.
Day didn't touch a club for a month after the operation, and other than the Shark Shootout, he has not competed since the Tour Championship, where he finished T-17. He's fresh and ready to go.
"I'm feeling great right now. And it (his nose) looks better, too," he joked.
-- Dave Shedloski