‘Would be huge’: Ultimate Olympic motivation revealed

Travelers Championship - Round One
Jason Day is headed to the Olympics. Picture: James Gilbert/Getty Images

Jason Day wants to be introduced as an Olympic champion the next time he’s on the tee box at a major championship, having decided making the team for Paris was an essential goal for 2024 and the ultimate brag to his five kids.

And while the former world No.1 concedes he has a “bit of work to do ” to contend for a medal in Paris, he said the “different feeling” of being an Olympian for the first time could be the ultimate motivation.

Day is one of three major champions set to represent Australia, joining Minjee Lee, who will attend a third Olympics, Hannah Green, a second, and rising star Min Woo Lee, who said it was “crazy” to think he’d be an Olympian.

But as the veteran of the team, at 36, and having conceded he was “selfish” not to go to the 2016 Olympics in Rio when he was the world No.1, Day, having endured significant injury battles and a drop outside the world’s top 150 before a career renaissance that began in 2023, said he was now desperate to take every opportunity and even wearing green and gold “through the airport” in France would give him a significant buzz.

“I should have gone (to Rio), I know that now, because a lot of people would kill for that time to represent their country and be on an Olympic team. It’s something a little bit bigger,” Day said from the US on Friday morning.

“I look at these opportunities, and when I was No.1 I took a lot for granted. I never thought there would ever be a possibility my ranking would balloon to like 175 and then fight through injuries. When you are top of the world, you don’t think of anything other than the success you are having.

“But if you are in a sport long enough, certain things are going to go wrong. To say I am in the second phase of my career is very accurate. All the stress I had on my shoulders a few years ago, being in pain every day, thinking I was never going to get out of it, that was a hard process to go through.

“I could have easily retired, but I knew it would have been too early.

“Now I am able to take the opportunities and be very thankful. That’s why, looking back on the Olympics in 2016, when I was the best player in the world, that was more selfish than anything, but we learn from our mistakes.

“I’m thankful I have worked my way back to the position I am in to represent Australia in the Olympics.

“It’s really nice to see and hear when I play with Xander Schauffele and Justin Rose and they announce the names, where they are from, and that they are the Olympic gold medallists, that is pretty cool to be able to hear that. It would be huge to be able to win one.”

Day started 2024 with three top-10 finishes in his opening five events but missed the cut at the US Open among some middling finishes in recent tournaments and wants to find his best for the Le Golf National course in Paris that he’s never seen.

“Maybe I can play some simulator golf on it,” he said.

“I really haven’t played that great as of late. I’m trying to find a little spark. Golf is kind of funny … you go there and try to find a little bit of lightning in a bottle.

“We’ve got two pretty big weeks in three weeks, the British Open, then the Olympics after that. I have to do a lot of work between now and then to give myself the best shot of winning a medal.”

The Lees are the only brother-sister duo to win USGA championships – Minjee won the 2012 US Girls’ Junior and Min Woo the 2016 US Junior Amateur – and now join the rich history of Olympic siblings.

Min Woo, who Day said had the talent to be Australia’s next world No.1, was buzzing at being on the team.

“Now that it is starting to sink in, representing the Australian Olympic Team alongside my sister at Paris 2024 is actually crazy,” said Min Woo.

“Playing at the Olympics has been a goal of mine ever since Minjee qualified for the Rio Olympics in 2016. Now that it is here, I want to do the green and gold proud and will be doing everything I can to come home with a gold medal.”