How Jason Day Battled His Way Back to The Top
JASON DAY has never been my favourite golfer but I have a new-found respect for him after his recent victory at the AT&T Byron Nelson.
It was his first win in five years. He is not the first golfer to go through a drought and he most certainly won’t be the last. Just look at Stewart Cink and Jordan Spieth for starters.
When he was at the absolute peak of his powers, Day used to drive me to distraction because his pace of play was funereal. That he was gifted was beyond dispute - you don’t win a major, come close to winning several more and reach the top of the world rankings unless you are seriously talented.
He hit the ball miles, was a beautiful iron player and back in 2015 it seemed that he holed everything he looked at - that was the year he won five times.
I thought the way he treated Colin Swatton was diabolical. Swatton was a mentor and father figure to Day and spent years carrying his bag - Day’s best years, I might point out. But that didn’t stop the Australian from cruelly ending their professional relationship.
And it coincided with his slump in form.
But the truth is that Day has had to deal with all sorts of personal issues. He has been dogged with chronic back pain and various other injuries. His back issues saw him having to withdraw from many tournaments and take extended breaks from the game.
And even when he was fully fit, he lived in fear of it flaring up again. It prevented him from practicing properly and it stopped him from going full till at the ball.
But far worse than that came the news that his mother had been diagnosed with lung cancer. Day was heartbroken and took some time out to help look after her. She seemed to be on the road to recovery but in 2022, after a five-year battle, cancer claimed her life.
It is little wonder that Day struggled to find any motivation to carry on chasing a little white ball around the fairways of the world. Remember, too, that this was a man who had once found winning golf tournaments so simple. But now his body was letting him down and his personal life was in turmoil.
It was only his wife Ellie and his children that allowed him to keep things in perspective.
Last year he turned to renowned coach Chris Como in a final attempt to find a way to swing the club without putting too much strain on his back. Initially, the signs were not too encouraging. However, he has gradually turned things around.
But not before he seriously considered walking away from the game for good.
He said: "It was very emotional to go through and to experience what my Mum was going through, then I had injuries on top of all of that going on in my life. To be honest, I was very close to calling it quits. I never told my wife that, but I was okay with it, just because it was a very stressful part of my life."
The 35-year-old was briefly reduced to tears after sealing victory on what was Mother's Day in the United States and celebrating with Ellie, who is expecting the couple's fifth child.
"Ellie, she never gave up on me trying to get back to the winner's circle again. She just always was pushing me to try and get better," Day added. "It feels strange to be sitting here. I don't know how else to explain it. To go through what I went through and then to be able to be a winner again and be in the winner's circle is very pleasing."
Day’s pace of play continues to frustrate the heck out of me but I will now be rooting for him every time he gets back into contention. And I genuinely hope that he can find a way to add to his solitary major victory.
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