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Defending PGA champ Jason Day gears up for condensed schedule

Jason Day of Australia hits his tee shot

Jason Day of Australia hits his tee shot on the fourteenth hole during the final round of the US Open Championship at Oakmont Country Club in Oakmont, Pennsylvania on 19 June 2016. Credit: EPA / MICHAEL REYNOLDS

SPRINGFIELD, N.J. — News of Rory McIlroy’s decision to bypass the Rio Olympics because of the possibility of exposure to Zika virus broke Wednesday morning, so Jason Day was prepared for the first question he received when he appeared as defending PGA champion at media day for this year’s tournament July 28-31 at Baltusrol Country Club. But the world’s No. 1 player wasn’t prepared to give a definitive answer.

Day noted that McIlroy has wedding plans and the desire to start a family. Day already is father of two children with his wife, Ellie, but they have plans to grow their family. Medical experts believe there is a link between Zika virus and microcephaly.

“It’s a tough one, trying to represent your country and trying to win a gold medal but also understanding that it’s a life decision that you have to make,” Day said. “There’s a small percentage that [contracting Zika virus] will happen, but it’s a chance some people aren’t willing to take. I haven’t made the decision yet. Family for me is priority No. 1, so I’m going to make sure they’re happy.”

Coming off a tie for eighth at last week’s U.S. Open, Day is gearing up for a condensed schedule that includes two majors in a space of three weeks, the British Open and the PGA. The tournament in between is the RBC Canadian Open, where Day is defending champion, so, he must play three straight weeks.

“I can’t come into the week of the PGA burnt out because I have more stuff to do . . . being defending champion,” Day said. “I really have to watch my recovery coming into that week because it’s going to be a very tiring schedule.”

Last season, those three tournaments were the springboard Day used to begin a hot streak that has seen him win seven of his past 18 events, including the Tournament Players Championship. Day felt he was ready to win his first major at the Open, where he missed a putt to get in the playoff at the final hole. But he won in Canada and then became the first major champion to finish at 20-under par in the PGA at Whistling Straits.

“I just started looking at myself differently,” Day said. “Instead of seeing my name fall short, I could see my name, ‘Jason Day, winner of . . . ,’ and that changed the belief system in me. Instead of seeing my name as a second-place name, I saw myself as a winner.”

Day has yet to play Baltusrol, but he believes the 7,428-yard layout should set up well for him. “I’m very greedy when it comes to winning,” Day said. “I want to stay No. 1 and win as much as I can. It would be great to be in the Hall of Fame.”

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