The No. 1 ranking in the world was passed around nine times in the 2018 season between five players, and one player who has reached that pinnacle before, albeit not in the last 12 months is taking aim at the milestone in 2019.
Jason Day, who was ranked No. 1 in the world three times between September 2015 and March 2016, has set his return to the top of the Official World Golf Rankings as one of his major goals in 2019.
Speaking with the Associated Press earlier this month at the Hero World Challenge, Day — whose family recently grew to five with the birth of baby Arrow in November — is following in the footsteps of former NBA All-Star Kobe Bryant en route to becoming the best.
“There has to be some kind of sacrifice (to return to No. 1),” Day said. “I was reading the Kobe Bryant book, and he knew there was something he had to sacrifice, so he sacrificed sleep. Because he couldn’t sacrifice family, he couldn’t sacrifice competing, and not working.
“What can I sacrifice? Sleep.
“It takes desire, but it takes balance in life. Right now, I’m at a different stage in my life just having my third child. It’s hard. Tiger made it look so easy over the years. Being No. 1 for 13 years is very impressive, but to be able to be a dominant player, that’s the biggest thing. I wanted to be one of those guys.”
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Despite two early-season victories at the Farmers Insurance Open and the Wells Fargo Championship, Day entered 2017 as the No. 13-ranked golfer in the world and will finish it as No. 14.
“I wasn’t as consistent as I should have been,” Day said. “If you have a couple of wins, finish with around 10 to 12 top 10s, typically you’re in the top-five region. That’s why I was disappointed about this year, even though I had two wins.”
And so, with three kids and a busier-than-ever life off of the course, Day is making sacrifices to regain his spot atop the game.
“You have to learn balance,” he said. “If you want to get to No. 1 in the world, you have to be super selfish. When that happens, you’re sacrificing family, you’re sacrificing friends, you’re sacrificing everything else other than golf.
“I don’t sleep well, anyway.”