Jason Day “disliked” Riviera, attitude change leads to Genesis Invitational success

A young Jason Day had no love for Riviera Country Club, one of the most iconic courses in the United States and the site of the Genesis Invitational.

As such, the Aussie faced a dilemma: skip Riviera or change his attitude about the place.

He decided on the latter, which has certainly paid off.

Day signed for a 6-under 65 at Riviera Thursday, as he now sits one stroke behind leader Patrick Cantlay.

“I felt like I didn’t get myself too far out of position,” Day said of his opening round.

“When I was in the rough, I was able to get myself back into the green, make my par, and move on.”

Jason Day, PGA Tour, The Genesis Invitational

Jason Day during the first round of the 2024 Genesis Invitational.
Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

A younger Day would have grown frustrated at those errant tee shots, but the 2015 PGA Championship winner has learned to embrace this historic venue.

“In my early days, I disliked this golf course,” said Day.

“It’s very easy to dislike [Riviera] if you get out of position, and you can’t run something up to the green because it kind of sticks at the front,” he explained.

“If you’re coming out of the rough and it lands on the green, it goes over the back. And if you don’t, you get frustrated, and you’re like, ‘I don’t like this golf course.’”

Before last year, Day played in this event five times. His best finish came in 2017, when he tied for 64th. He missed the cut at Riviera three times, with the other instance resulting in a tie for 67th.

So, Day decided to fix his attitude, which resulted in a top-10 finish at Riviera a year ago.

“Changed my mindset and attitude. This is one of my favorite stops of the year because it is a tremendous golf course,” Day said. “Rich history. Some of the greats who played the Tour have played here and won here.”

Known as “Hogan’s Alley” thanks to Ben Hogan’s triumph at the 1948 U.S. Open, Riviera has long tested the best players in the world. And yet, Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus never won there.

“For me to try and change that mindset, that attitude was huge,” Day added.

“Obviously, I’ve found some success, which is good.”

Day made four birdies on the back nine to race up the leaderboard and into contention. And who knows, maybe he goes on to win this week, cementing himself among the greats.

Jack Milko is a golf staff writer for SB Nation’s Playing Through. Be sure to check out @_PlayingThrough for more golf coverage. You can follow him on Twitter @jack_milko as well.

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