Meet the World No. 1 ...

Jason Day
Marc Serota
Red Alert: "I'm trying to work toward taking that No. 1 spot from Tiger," Day says.

Just after he turned pro in 2006, Jason Day, then 18, headed off to the TaylorMade testing center, in Carlsbad, Calif., to be fitted for a new set of clubs. He grabbed a 5-iron and started taking cuts.

"You're swinging pretty easy," one technician said. "Can you swing any faster?"

"Sure," Day said. He loaded onto his right side and — whoosh! — knifed the club through the air. The readout: 105 mph, just shy of the PGA Tour average — with a driver. The boys in the lab had never seen such velocity. Who was this kid?

The most heralded rookie on Tour in 2008 is a self-assured, 20-year-old Australian who might one day surpass Greg Norman, Geoff Ogilvy and Adam Scott. He's won more in his teens than that trio, and now he's talking about out-winning even the game's sacred swoosh, Woods. And he won't be laying up much in the process. ("If there's a gap in a tree, I go for it," says Day.)

The kid's got the game to back up the bravado. In 2006, playing seven Tour events on sponsors' exemptions, Day made five cuts, including two top-15s. He failed Q School later that year, but last July, at 19, Day became the youngest winner of a Tour-sanctioned event (take that, Tiger!), shooting four rounds in the 60s to win the Nationwide's Legend Financial Group Classic in Cleveland. In his next four starts, he finished T5, 2 (shooting a Nationwide-record-tying weekend score of 62-63), T13 and 3, assuring his call-up to the Show.

Wherever it happens, the time is near. It could arrive this month or next, or this spring or summer, but someday soon on a pimped-out golf course in a prime zip code, this boy who would be king will stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the reigning sovereign. Not bad for a kid who grew up in near-poverty, whose first club came from a trash heap.

IN THE CLUBHOUSE this past fall at the Albertsons Boise Open, a Nationwide Tour event, Day is polishing off lunch. Other pros amble by and razz him for indulging yet another writer. He laughs, loving it. They've adopted him as a Major League team adopts its bat boy, provided that the bat boy is a young Barry Bonds. They know he'll surpass them soon, but today Day is all doe-eyed innocence, a slender, tan kid with white teeth and black clothing from TaylorMade and Adidas. "Oh, man," Day says, exhilarated at the prospect of the dream matchup with Tiger. "Everyone is working toward something. I'm trying to work toward taking that No. 1 spot from him." Day looks so young that it's surprising to learn that he shaves. He wants to get big. Not just in stature but in sinew, with the muscled back and tapered waist. "Athletically ripped," he says. He and his idol are the same height: 6'1". Each moves the ball more than 300 yards off the tee, although the stats say Day is a few paces longer. They're telegenic and multiethnic, Day the product of a Filipino mother and an Australian father. But Woods is physically broader, and that's no trivial matter. When you want to be a pioneer, to be the first to put the mighty Woods on his heels, these are the things you think about. You play a limited number of tournaments, 15 to 20, as Tiger does, because burnout is real. You sign a deal with Adidas because, well, Nike's got its man. And you contemplate the size of your biceps.

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