Day eyes more weeks at No. 1 and Olympic gold

MIAMI • Golf is returning to the Olympics after a 112-year absence. Yet, despite the historical significance, several Major champions such as Adam Scott, Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel have decided to skip the event in Rio de Janeiro.

Their decisions have attracted wide-ranging criticism, from the likes of legends Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus and others in the golf community who see it as damaging to the sport's image.

But world No. 1 Jason Day does not see it that way. He has sympathy for players who have elected to miss the Olympics, acknowledging that Majors were viewed as more important than medals.

"Your career is pretty much based on how many Majors you win and how many tournaments you win," the PGA Championship winner said on Wednesday as he prepared for the first round of the Zurich Classic of New Orleans.

"You can't really get angry at golfers for trying to say that they're going to pull out of the Olympics - because it's never been on our radar to ever win a gold medal."

The 28-year-old, however, is relishing the prospect of trying to win Olympic gold.

"For me personally, I'm looking forward to the challenge of trying to win a medal," said the Australian. "It would be a really, really fantastic honour to be able to win a gold medal or any medal at the Olympics.

"To be able to go down there and try and win a gold medal and represent your country is a unique and massive honour."

While the Aug 5-21 Rio Games remains a distant goal, Day, in the short term, is concentrating on the challenges ahead at TPC Louisiana this weekend.

Winning the PGA event will mean a cheque for US$1.26 million (S$1.69 million) and 500 FedEx Cup points. More importantly for Day, it would see his extend his reign as the world No. 1.

He is keen to lengthen his stay at the top after spending nine weeks in that position.

"I just want to get to 10 (weeks), and after that I want to get to 11 and after that I want to get to 12 and so on and so on," he said. "If I have the opportunity to (be at the top longer than compatriot Greg Norman, who spent over 330 weeks as No. 1), I know that's going to take a lot of sacrifice and a lot of dedication to do that."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 29, 2016, with the headline 'Day eyes more weeks at No. 1 and Olympic gold'. Print Edition | Subscribe