Jason Day may have failed to win the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am on Sunday but his solo fourth did at least mark a return in the right direction for the former World No.1.
Day, 32, held every chance of claiming his first title at Pebble Beach when starting the final round three strokes off the pace, but he struggled badly with his wedges and a cold putter en route to a 3-over 75. The 2015 US PGA winner ended up on 11-under par and eight strokes behind eventual winner Nick Taylor.
It marked a best finish anywhere around the world for the talented Australian since he won the Wells Fargo in May 2018.
Day may have only moved six rungs up the world ladder from 44th to 38th, but he will take it from where he was this time last year.
The 12-time PGA Tour winner has battled a chronic back injury for much of the last three years, and as a result it has cut his daily training in half. Throw in the fact his mother continues her brave battle with lung cancer, and Day was considering the prospect of giving up the game within the next few years.
"I feel like it’s been a long time since I’ve actually been out there and felt the way that I felt out there today and played well like that," said Day following his impressive third-round 64 at Pebble Beach.
"It’s hard because you compete week-in and week-out and you expect so much of yourself, and everyone does, but sometimes when you’re injured, like for the most part I was all last year, it’s just, it gets frustrating.
"And not only do you get frustrated, you don’t get the results and you lose confidence. You feel like your world is kind of crumbling around yourself, especially as an athlete who has played, who plays injured. It’s not a good feeling because there’s some dark moments in there that you got to kind of fight through.
"All last year, I would sit there and think, ‘OK, I don’t know how much I can kind of push myself through this.’ I thought maybe I’ll re-evaluate things at 40.
"I’m like, ‘If I can kind of push it to 35 then that would be good.’ But those are the things that go along in your head. As you’re an injured player, you think, maybe my time is just coming around the corner, and I might have to rack the clubs, and that’s a really terrible way of seeing it because I am only 32."
As for coping with his mother's battle with cancer, Day is just happy to be out here playing well with a smile on his face again.
"I’ve got a lot more gratitude being here," he said. "I think I’m a lot more happier and that hopefully yields better play."