Jason Day's plan to defend his PGA Championship took a turn he wasn't expecting.
It is rare for a player considered one of the favorites in a major not to see the golf course until the day before the tournament starts, but that's how the world's No. 1-ranked player will try to handle Baltusrol Golf Club, the site of this year's PGA Championship.
"I haven't played a practice round. I haven't seen the course. I don't know what it looks like," Day said Wednesday before heading out for a practice round. "I was with Doug Steffen, the head pro, last night at the champions' dinner. I went through pretty much every hole with him for about 20, 30 minutes, kind of going over all the holes. I'm going to try and touch them all today, but obviously the prep's been a little on the lighter side. So I need to come in and try to get a good, solid 18 holes in today so I kind of know where I'm going."
Day's plan had always been to take Monday off. Tuesday became a day of tending to a sick family and himself.
"Dash and Lucy (his children) are sick right now, and kind of Dash passed that on to me a little bit," Day said. "I'm OK. I'm fine. I'm just a little bit under the weather. Ellie (his wife) had an allergic reaction last night and had to go to the hospital. We were there until 2 o'clock or something like that. So I'm kind of running on 'E' right now. She's fine. Everything was great."
The 28-year-old Australian has eight wins in 2015 and 2016, but he hasn't had a good first round in any of the majors this year, which makes his having two Top Ten finishes in them all the more impressive.
He shot a 72 to start the Masters and was able to finish tied for 10th. At the U.S. Open at Oakmont, he started with a 76 and rallied to finish tied for eighth. At the British Open he started with a 73 and finished tied for 22nd at Royal Troon.
"I think there's a little bit of expectation obviously on my shoulders; that I've got off to a great start this year. You've got to come out and fire on all cylinders and get yourself up the leaderboard and show people that you're there and you're ready to win," he said. "I think if you try a little bit too hard sometimes, you can kind of shoot yourself in the foot. I think that's what I did in the first two majors."
Since the PGA went to stroke play in 1958, only Tiger Woods has repeated as champion, in 2006 and 2007. Besides chasing Tiger, Day is also trying keep that No. 1 ranking he claimed after winning the World Match Play Championship in March. He could lose it this week if things fall right between himself and U.S. Open champion Dustin Johnson.
"It's definitely important. I really want to obviously finish No. 1 in the world at the end of the year," Day said. "But I think the biggest thing for me is to really understand what I need to do to win each week, or get myself into contention. Because the hardest part is obviously trying to stay consistent for so many years; it's very, very difficult. I think the last guy we had was Tiger Woods that was very consistent. Each week that he played, he was pretty much in contention."