-- PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- Here's the problem* with being the world's No. 1 golfer who has a habit of winning big-time golf tournaments.
(*Let's face it: There are worse dilemmas in life than the "problem" of playing dominant golf and earning millions of dollars and having to build an additional trophy room to handle so much additional hardware, but even the top-ranked golfer faces concerns -- and for the sake of this exercise, we're calling this one a problem.)
Instead of being appreciated for your own accomplishments, the world is always comparing you to the last player who dominated the game.
You Know Who.
And for the past 10 months, it's been happening to Jason Day.
He's getting comparisons to Tiger Woods.
Now, look: Nobody in their right mind is referring to Day as "the next Tiger," just as nobody should have been calling McIlroy or Spieth by that moniker when they won their major championships.
Tiger's career accomplishments still dwarf the three of them combined -- and will continue dwarfing them for a very long time, if not forever.
There are certain correlations, however, that invoke memories of Woods in his prime when we start listing Day's achievements.
With his convincing victory at the Players Championship on Sunday, he's now won seven PGA Tour events since July. He's converted each of his past five 54-hole leads. He's claimed three wire-to-wire victories in the time that all other players together have totaled one.
But don't let those numbers alone feed the analogies to that certain 14-time major champion. Don't let those connections be made simply by those who forget Woods' dominance.
No, let's ask Adam Scott, a countryman and friend of Day, what he thinks of his recent performances.
"That's Tiger-esque," he said Sunday, even before Day had clinched the title. "I always try to explain how good you feel after one win, and I try to imagine how good Tiger felt just playing about five years into his pro career having won like 50 events, and imagine how you'd feel confidence-wise, and Jason must be kind of feeling something like that at the moment."
For most players, being saddled with such a comparison would be the equivalent of having the scarlet letters TW branded on their golf shirt.
For Day, who first became inspired to seek a career in golf after reading a book about Woods and idolized him during his formative years, any comparison is welcomed.
"That's great to be in the same sentence as Tiger," he said of Scott's comment. "I've never been more motivated to be No. 1 in the world. I've never been more motivated to try to extend that lead from one to two. All the hard work that I've put into my game right now has paid off, but I've got to keep working hard to win as much as I can. But it's very pleasing and satisfying to hear the caliber of player like Adam Scott saying that about my game."
If there are other comparisons to be made between Day and Woods, that might be because their relationship has spawned them.
Day has made no secret about the fact that he's leaned on Woods as a mentor. He frequently calls or texts him for advice, including during this week's victory, when Woods reminded him that playing four rounds as the leader is like running a marathon.
Perhaps that's why so many of Day's titles -- the latest included -- so closely resemble those of Woods, turning exciting golf tournaments into Sunday afternoon snoozers.
"Is it Tiger-esque? I guess you could sort of say it is, but I think this motivates him to keep on working and keep on practicing hard and keep on winning," said Day's longtime caddie and instructor Colin Swatton. "When Jason's on, he's the best player in the world and obviously this week proves it."
The comparisons will keep coming. Just as they did for McIlroy and just as they did for Spieth.
Like both of them, Day shouldn't be charged with having to take over the role of Tiger in the current game. It's impossible, though, to witness the wins and statistics and mentality, and not conjure images of his idol in his prime years.
Or as Day explained with a smile after his round, just as he did during those formative years, Woods is still serving as inspiration.
"Tiger says he's going to kick my butt when he comes back," he said. "If he does come back and he's turned into Tiger Woods again, I've got to kind of watch my behind."