JEJU (South Korea) • After his mother's cancer scare had left him not wanting "to be on the golf course", Jason Day said yesterday he was targeting getting back to world No. 1.
"My mum getting lung cancer was very difficult," the Australian told reporters ahead of the PGA Tour's inaugural CJ Cup, which begins in South Korea today.
"I don't have any grandparents. I don't have my dad. I don't have anyone. If I lost my mum all I would have would be my two sisters," said the world No. 9 on Jeju Island.
"So realising how much she sacrificed for me growing up it meant a lot to me to be there for her. And I didn't want to be on the golf course.
"I knew that if she was going to die then I wanted to spend as much time as I could with her."
Fortunately for Day, his mother underwent a successful surgery in March and he is now able to put his focus back on golf.
After making his Major championship breakthrough by winning the 2015 PGA Championship, the 29-year-old went on a hot streak to rise to the top of the world.
Day was still No. 1 at the start of this year but with his last win coming a year and a half ago at the Players Championship, his ranking has tumbled.
He missed the cut at the US Open and finished outside the top 20 in the Masters and the British Open.
Day has shown glimpses of form since, ending ninth in August's PGA Championship and recording two top 10s since.
"It was a little bit of a combination of things why I had this poor season. I was a little bit burnt out from 2016 and 2015," he added.
" I didn't know how to handle being No. 1. Next time I get there again I will handle it a little bit differently.
"Hopefully the distractions that I've had on and off the golf course have gone away and I can focus on climbing back to No. 1."
Ten of the world's top 30 will tee off on Jeju Island, south of the mainland, in the second event of a three-week swing as the US PGA Tour spreads its wings further into Asia.
World No. 4 and PGA Champion Justin Thomas is the top-ranked player at the par-72 Nine Bridges course for an event which carries a first prize of US$1.665 million (S$2.26 million) as part of a massive US$9.25 million purse.
Another former world No. 1 and self-confessed surfing nut Adam Scott revealed yesterday that he could not resist taking to Jeju Island's waves while preparing for the tournament.
While most of his rivals in the 78-man field were practising on the course, the Australian sneaked off for a couple of hours at Jeju's famous Jungmun beach.
"I was lucky enough to get down to the beach the other day and took the opportunity while I was there to run out and try and catch a couple of waves," he said.
"It's really fun to be able to say I've surfed in Korea. I'd like to go again but I don't think it's going to happen this trip."
THE CJ CUP
Day 1: StarHub Ch204, 10am