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Friday October 23 2020
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Top seeds gunning for U.S. Open championship

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The practice rounds continued on Tuesday at Oakmont Country Club under another picture perfect day. Among the golfers preparing for this week's U.S. Open was Jason Day, ranked as the top golfer in the world and one of the favorites to be in contention for the championship on Sunday.

Day likes where is golf game is at leading up to this week.

“I feel good where I am right now with regards to my game. I got here Friday and I’ve been prepping and trying to really get prepared for [the Open], mentally and physically,” Day said. “This is one tournament that is very stressful and I feel like I thrive under stress. This is probably the hardest venue of the season.” 

Even though Day is a native of Australia, he is no stranger to Western Pennsylvania in general and The Oakmont Country Club in particular.

“This is my agent’s [Wexford-based Bud Martin] backyard. I came here when I was 18 and played Oakmont for the first time. This almost feels like home just because of where [Martin] is from,” Day said. “You can’t hit a bunker here. If you hit [the bunker] with any sort of speed, it’s going up the lip, and there’s just no chance of getting to the hole.”

Besides the challenge of playing Oakmont, Day also faces the stress of being ranked the number one golfer in the world.

“I’ve never been more stressed in my life than right now. Being number one in the world, having a lot of expectations on you, having to practice so hard to keep that number one spot, trying to win as many tournaments as I can puts a lot of stress and pressure on your shoulders,” Day said. “I think I’m going to need rest this week with how tough [Oakmont is], so I’ll be ready come Thursday.”

Day considers self-confidence to be more important than skill when battling the golf courses and the stress.

“[Self-confidence] is probably the most important part. You can have all the tools, but if you don’t really believe in yourself, you’re going to sabotage yourself to a point where you just feel uncomfortable,” Day said. “I think the biggest thing for me was to really understand I could win multiple times in a year, not just once. Winning once is great on the PGA Tour, but really winning multiple times is a very dominant player, and I’m hoping to try and keep that level of play going forward. The hardest thing for me is to really just try and want that and work hard for that.”

Rory McIlroy, the 2011 U.S. Open Champion, is also preparing this week in Oakmont. He feels if he loses focus on even one shot, he could risk losing shots.

"I feel as prepared as I can be coming in here. I feel like I've got a good game plan for the course. It's just a matter of going out there and executing it," McIlroy said. "[Oakmont] is a great test of golf. Every shot you hit, you're under pressure to hit a great shot because you can't really miss it. You have to get the ball in play."

McIlroy thinks discipline is a key to playing well at Oakmont.

"You just have to be so disciplined. There's not a lot of definition out there," McIlroy said. "You could go a whole round without hitting it at any pin. I'm an aggressive player so there's just going to be times where I'm going to have to rein it back a little bit."

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