(Reuters) - Former world number one Jason Day says he is pain free at last after several stressful years and hopes to end a nearly three-year victory drought at the Farmers Insurance Open in San Diego.
Equal leader with Will Zalatoris after Friday's third round at Torrey Pines, Day spoke of the difficultly of coping mentally when injury knocked him from not only the top perch in world golf but outside the top 100 in the rankings.
"A big ball of stress," the 34-year-old Ohio-based Australian told reporters when asked to describe the last three years of his career.
"It's just that you come from being the top of the world and then all of a sudden it kind of falls out beneath you."
Day was a class apart during a 10-month purple patch in 2015-16 when he won seven times in rapid order, including his first major title at the PGA Championship and another huge scalp at the Players Championship.
But a longstanding back injury and spasms that flared up periodically took their toll, not only physically but confidence-wise.
He also had to deal with the news his mother Dening had lung cancer, for which to date she has received successful treatment.
"I feel like I've never had an injury, which is weird," said the 12-times PGA Tour winner.
"When I was a kid, but even so the start of my career I was in a lot of pain ... Honestly, I felt like I'm like maybe if I made 35, that would be good."
Day has focused on refining his swing to put less stress on his spine, and seems to have a new lease on his professional life, whether or not he wins on Sunday.
"That's the ultimate goal is to put myself in the position where I can win tournaments," he said.
"For me it's taken a while and (I need to) just stay patient with myself and just stay positive as much as possible because sooner or later it's going to happen."
(Reporting by Andrew Both in Melbourne; Editing by Stephen Coates)