HONOLULU, Hawaii -- Few players join the PGA Tour with the fanfare that has accompanied Jason Day's ascension, but for any young player, there is a learning curve, and in his case he already has received his first lesson: Honesty is not necessarily the best policy.
At 20, Day is the youngest player on the PGA Tour, and his victory last year in the Nationwide Tour's Legend Financial Group Classic made him the youngest in history to win a PGA Tour-sanctioned event.
Late last year, the Australian prodigy told the Australian newspaper, the Herald Sun, that his goal is to be the No. 1 player in the world. "I'm sure I can take him down," he said of Tiger Woods. "I want to measure myself against Tiger Woods ... There's a lot of pressure and you try to handle it. All I want to do is work hard, win tournaments and catch up with Tiger. At 19, Tiger didn't win a tournament as a professional. Next year on the tour, I've got to win two tournaments, because that's what he won and I want to try and keep up with him. It's a big ask for a 20-year-old kid on his first year out on the PGA Tour."
Day has been stung by the predictable backlash. He has been widely criticized -- often, he said, by those citing only the phrase "I'm sure I can take him down" and ignoring the greater context of his overall remarks, that, "It's a big ask."
"I don't understand it," Day said at Waialae CC, where he was making his debut as a member of the PGA Tour, in the Sony Open. "There are so many guys who want to be number one, but I chose to be honest about it and they crucified me.
"I'm still going to be working hard to get to the number one spot, and that's Tiger Woods," said Day, who shot 73-70 and missed the cut. "I know it's not going to be given to me."
-- John Strege