By Ian Ransom
MELBOURNE, Nov 26 (Reuters) - Australian Jason Day's drought-breaking win at the World Cup of Golf on Sunday has him knocking on the door of the world's top 10 and revived his goal of one day climbing to top spot.
The 26-year-old's triumph at Royal Melbourne saw him jump to 11th from 18th in the world rankings and gave him a much-needed dose of self-belief after three years of near-misses since his maiden title at the 2010 Byron Nelson Championship.
Having outplayed compatriot and world number two Adam Scott and seventh-ranked American Matt Kuchar to take individual honours at the World Cup, Day will have another chance to measure himself this week when he clashes with Scott and world number six Rory McIlroy at the Australian Open in Sydney.
"It was surprising to jump from 18 to 11, if I have a good week this week I can definitely jump into the top 10," Day told reporters on Tuesday.
"Being number one has always been a goal since I practically picked up a golf club."
Day said he and long-time mentor and caddy Colin Swatton had even put a timeframe on his rise to the top.
"I've always wanted to get to that number one spot. Me and Colin had a goal back when we first met, when I was 12, 13 (years old), that we wanted to become the number one player in the world," he added.
"We had a goal to get there at 22, we ended up getting to number seven at 23 so we fell short but it's still on my mind to get to that number one spot."
Day's World Cup win came days after learning that eight of his relatives had been killed in the Philippines by Typhoon Haiyan and he shared an emotional embrace with his mother after tapping in the final putt on the 18th at Royal Melbourne.
Having not played competitively for five weeks in the leadup, Day showed great character to fend off tenacious Dane Thomas Bjorn over the back nine on Sunday, helping Australia win the tournament's team component.
Day's team mate Scott finished third to continue his impressive form after having won the Australian PGA Championship and the Australian Masters in consecutive weeks.
Scott was thrilled to share the team trophy with Day, but was disappointed that the World Cup's format change meant they were unable to band together over four days in four-ball and foursomes against other teams as in previous editions.
Australian Open organisers have provided some compensation by grouping the Australians together with American Kevin Streelman at Royal Sydney.
Scott is bidding to become only the second player after compatriot Robert Allenby to win all three of Australia's marquee tournaments in a single season.
"Definitely looking forward to that pairing Thursday and Friday," Day said of his grouping with Scott.
"It's going to be exciting. Hopefully we put on a good show for the fans and hopefully we get some nice weather that a lot of people can come out and watch us."
(Editing by Peter Rutherford)