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Jason Day at Pinehurst, resuming chase for No. 1 at U.S. Open

US Open Golf
David Goldman - AP
Jason Day, of Australia, watches his tee shot on the third hole during a practice round for the U.S. Open golf tournament in Pinehurst, N.C., Tuesday, June 10, 2014. The tournament starts Thursday.

PINEHURST Jason Day is healthy again and thinking big at the U.S. Open this week at Pinehurst No. 2.

Day, who tied for second at last year’s U.S. Open at Merion Golf Club in Ardmore, Pa., has missed several weeks this spring while recovering from a thumb injury. It affected his play to such an extent that he had to withdraw from the WGC-Cadillac Championship and Arnold Palmer Invitational in March. Although he returned for the Masters, he skipped the next six tournaments recuperating from an injury that came from overuse and too much stress on the thumb from his swing.

But he returned at the Memorial in late May and tied for 37th.

That brings him to Pinehurst, where Tuesday he pronounced himself “100 percent healthy.”

Day also is ready to resume his pursuit of the No. 1 ranking in the world. He had a chance to move into the top spot had he won the Masters. Instead, he tied for 20th with that sore thumb.

As a result of his inactivity, Day has slipped to seventh in the world.

“Ever since I was a little kid, I always wanted to get to that No. 1 spot,” said Day, 26. “It’s still on my radar and I think it will always be. I just have to keep working hard, doing the right things and doing the little things that count.”

A good start toward that would be a victory in the U.S. Open. He finished behind Justin Rose in 2013.

“I’ve been close in a few majors now,” said Day, who is playing Pinehurst competitively for the first time this week. “So close that you can almost taste it. It’s disappointing and encouraging at the right time. I can stew on it and say I kind of have blown a few, or I had a real opportunity to win and I just didn’t quite get there. I look at it as experience.”

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