Day at a crossroad entering new PGA season

Darren WaltonAAP
Jason Day knows he must work smarter, not harder to be able to compete with his chronic back injury.
Camera IconJason Day knows he must work smarter, not harder to be able to compete with his chronic back injury. Credit: EPA

Battling mental demons and an ailing back, Jason Day launches his US PGA Tour season this week uncertain of what the future holds and exactly what he wants out of golf.

Australia's fallen star needed a sponsor's invite into the prestigious 78-man CJ Cup in Las Vegas starting on Thursday and will use the no-cut event to gauge where his game is at, having not played in almost two months.

The former world No.1 has slumped to 79th in the rankings and needs to return to the top 50 - or win a tournament - to qualify for the Masters, US Open and British Open in 2022.

Once a perennial contender at the majors, Day is so far only exempt for the PGA Championship next May as a former champion.

"I'm a different player than what I was five years ago. I'm a different person. I have different priorities," said Day, who is also juggling a hectic family life after welcoming the birth of his fourth child this year.

"I can't work as hard as I used to just because of my body, and I'm OK with that."

The 33-year-old knows he must work smarter, not harder to be able to compete with his chronic back injury.

"I'm not trying to do the exact same thing that got me to No.1 in the world," Day said.

"I know that if I did that, I wouldn't get there because my body wouldn't handle it.

"So I've got to somehow be able to kind of learn as I go along and try and adapt as best I can."

Day's physical impediments have also taken a big toll on the Queenslander emotionally.

"We all battle demons, especially as golfers. It's such an individual sport," he said.

"(I) just (want to) try and discover that golf is not the thing that defines me."

Without a win since 2018, Day hopes working on his body and mind will extend his career for a decade or more.

But he knows he's at a crossroad.

"You learn to go... I'm either going to quit the game because I don't want to feel like this and it's not motivating and I'm struggling with it, or how do I handle it and tackle it head on and be able do it in a healthy way where for the next 10, 15 years, if I want to, I actually enjoy myself on the golf course while competing at a high level," Day said.

"Do I want to climb that mountain again?

"For sure. But I've got to take it easy and I've got to be smart about it because, if I'm not smart about it, then it could be short lived."

Australian No.1 Cameron Smith will also tee it up for the first time this season, while Marc Leishman, Adam Scott, Matt Jones and Cam Davis are backing up from last week as 36 of the world's top 50 players feature at The Summit Club.

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