Q: It’s an honor to welcome Jason Day into the Interview Room, the 2016 winner of the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by MasterCard. His 8th PGA Tour victory and he wins in wire-to-wire fashion. Jason, congratulations on the win. You made it interesting out there, though. Just comment on your day.
JD: It was quite interesting to be able to come out and not feel great. I was thinking—a lot of things going through my mind—I didn’t feel comfortable over any shot out there today. It obviously showed early in my round with bogey on 3, 4 and then 6 as well. Bogeying the two par-5s was really bad, but I just said to myself I got to be patient. I’ve been saying it to everyone: don’t force anything. Once you get that opportunity, make sure you take that chance, and, fortunately for me, being able to birdie 17 and par 18 was great.
Q: First of all, the club on 17, what did you hit there?
JD: 5-iron. I watched, luckily for me, what Troy [Merritt] hit, a 3-iron straight over the back of the green. So I just knew that it was a 5-iron straight away. To be able to hit it there and sink that putt was nice.
Q: What was your thought process on 17 tee when you’re one back, and you didn’t birdie 16. I’m sure you’re probably feeling like it’s do or die on 17.
JD: Yeah, definitely. I didn’t know where Kevin [Chappell] hit his tee shot on 18, but I saw that he laid up and he was at 17-under par.
When I was walking up to the 17the tee, I knew I needed to get to 17-under par to give myself any sort of chance. Once that birdie went in, I was watching the leaderboard on the 18th tee, and Kevin went back to 16.
I was nervous standing over that tee shot on 18 and missed it right. The first thing that came into my mind [about my second shot] was to hit it long into the back left bunker. It’s straight down the grain, and I can give myself an opportunity for par at least.
Q: Jason, a question about that bunker shot. You say you didn’t feel comfortable over any shot today. What were you feeling over that one?
JD: I could not think of anything else other than trying to get that thing up and down. When it came out, I knew that it was a good shot. I hit it great, exactly what I wanted to do. I didn’t want to spin it too much, and I didn’t want it to check. I wanted to make sure it landed on the green and ran down to the hole. More nervous over the putt than the bunker shot.
Q: And then could you summarize what you and Arnold said as you were coming off the green?
JD: I just thanked him for what he’s done for the game and for us as players. To be able to walk up there and have that special moment with the King, it’s something that I’ve always wanted to do, especially after watching Tiger do it a lot. It is one of those tournaments that the biggest guys usually win, and I was just very pleased to shake his hand.
Q: Jason, you made it look easy for the first couple days. Then, how gratifying is it to kind of grind it out the way you did and come from behind twice today?
JD: I get to 13-under par [after two rounds] and then finish at 17-under par. I mean it was a grinding sort of a weekend. My driving actually kind of stuck around which was great and gave me a lot of opportunities on the fairways.
My iron play was very, very poor over the weekend, but one thing that helped a lot was my short game. I holed a lot of shots this week, more so than I’ve ever done in my career. It’s all that hard work that I’ve been putting in from the start of the season on my short game because I know that that’s one strength that I hold. If I can keep it, it gives me a boost of confidence that I can go out there, even when I don’t have my best stuff with my full game and my swing, and that I can play well.
Q: You talked about you and Tiger texting back and forth. Curious if you traded any texts last night or this morning?
JD: Traded texts last night and this morning. For some reason when he sends the same stuff to me, “Just be yourself” and, “Just be sure,” I can finally concentrate.
It gives me so much confidence that a person like Tiger would believe in me, especially as a kid I idolized him. I watched him in ’97 win the Masters for the first time, and, all of a sudden, I’m playing the Tour. I’m pretty close with him now.
Q: How important was it for you to win today?
JD: It was very important. I’ve been working really, really hard. I mean I had not stopped. I’ve had to sacrifice a little bit of time with the family just so I could work a little bit harder and really focus on my golf game. It’s finally paid off.
It’s great to win this tournament the way I did. Winning this tournament and going forward will help me with my career and future tournaments to come just in the way how I stayed patient and aggressive and hit the clutch shots. It’s kind of a rollover from what I did the second half of last year, and that experience that I had last year kind of popped in today and got the job done.
WHAT'S YOUR REACTION?
Q: In any future back and forth with Tiger, whether in person or text, do you plan on reminding him he never won this wire to wire?
JD: I never knew that, and I will text him that tonight. Regardless if you win wire to wire or if you win pretty or if you win ugly, a win is a win. It’s a great feeling, and nothing beats winning. Like I said, Tiger’s been a big influence in my life ever since I was a kid. To have his advice and to be able to go see him and practice with him and pick his brain about numerous things that I want to try to improve my game has been a big credit to him.
Q: Jason Day, congratulations once again.
JD: Thank you. Cheers.