Day ready to start climbing the mountain

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Jason Day feels ready to try and displace Dustin Johnson at the top of the world rankings after suffering from burnout and then putting family ahead of his game in recent months.

The Australian, ranked third in the world behind Johnson and Rory McIlroy, had climbed to the summit in September 2015, a month after winning his first major at the PGA Championship.

The 29-year-old, though, has not won on the PGA Tour since last year's Players Championship.

As he prepares to defend his title at TPC Sawgrass this week, Day acknowledged the added pressure of being the sport's standard-bearer, together with his mother's battle against cancer, took their toll.

"For a moment there after I lost my number one world ranking, I kind of lost the desire to be there, and I think it was just because I was mentally burnt out from everything that had gone on," he told a news conference.

"With what had happened earlier this year with some off-course stuff, my mind was kind of elsewhere, as you probably could imagine... [but] finally I can kind of take a breath and sit back and go, okay, I need to kind of start my trip back to up the mountain again.

"What I'm trying to focus on is getting back to that winning form, getting back to the workload that I was doing and the practice and the work ethic, and hopefully the results will come after that."

Asked how difficult it will be to regain top billing, he said: "Well, Dustin Johnson is out there playing pretty well. That usually makes it pretty hard when someone hits it 350 yards down the middle and flicks it on with a wedge and holes all the putts."

When he is producing his best golf, Day is not short of confidence, but the Australian revealed his mentality can often prove to be a challenge. 

"I honestly felt there was no one better than me in the game, and that it didn't matter who it was, I was going to beat them," he said of his time at the top of the rankings.

"That was my mentality going into every tournament going through that stretch and going into the early part of that year after that [2016], and it really showed in my game. I think it was just more so that I had the self-belief in myself. 

"That's one thing that I probably struggle with the most out of my whole game is the actual self-belief. When it's there, I usually play some very, very good golf."