Masters notebook: Day at peace and on top of rankings

Doug Roberson
Atlanta Journal-Constritution

Augusta, Ga. — Jason Day sat on a bus, ready to give up golf.

He no longer enjoyed the sport. He no longer wanted to practice.

Surrounded by his wife, his agent and a sports psychologist, they talked about him just trying to have fun in his first Masters at Augusta National.

Cut loose from stress and with no expectations, Day finished tied for second.

Just like that, he said golf became fun again.

It’s been fun since. He won the PGA Championship last year with a majors record 20-under par for his first major and enters his sixth Masters this week as the No. 1 ranked player in the world and among the favorites to win, with two wins already this season at the Arnold Palmer Invitational and World Golf Championships Dell Match Play.

“Going through that tough time, understanding now, my whole team is very, very close, and I understand I don’t pay my guys to give me yes answers,” Day said. “I pay them to tell me what’s going on really in my life. And at that time, it was a tough time, but I’m glad I got through it and sitting here today No. 1 in the world.”

To improve his chances this week, Day is going to adopt a similar approach to the one that led him to success in 2011. He’s going to try to not think so much as he plays the beautiful uneven terrain of Augusta.

He followed his second-place finish with a missed cut in 2012, a third in 2013 and tied for 20th and tied for 28th in 2014 and 2015.

Day believes he began to force things because of the success he was experiencing. The variations on questions about winning — when, where and how — took his focus off what he was trying to focus on: staying in the moment, trusting himself and having fun.

“Don’t do anything more; don’t do anything less, and from there, just try and go out and execute,” he said.

Par-3 contest

Jimmy Walker won the Par-3 contest with an 8-under 19, including a hole in one on No. 2. Craig Stadler, the 1982 Masters champion, and Keegan Bradley tied for second at 5 under. The field is composed of Masters competitors, past champions and honorary invitees.

Pro caddies for Lyle

Esteban Toledo, who never qualified for The Masters during any of his 21 years playing on the PGA Tour, is working as a caddie this week, carrying clubs for his buddy, 1988 Masters champion Sandy Lyle.

“A dream come true for me,” Toledo said. “You walk through the gates, and you get a feel for the honor, the prestige. Walking these fairways, it doesn’t get any better than that.”

Toledo made $3.7 million over his career on the PGA Tour.

Associated Press contributed