AVONDALE, La. – PGA Tour star Jason Day expects to arrive in Augusta, Georgia, on Friday to start practicing for the Masters, but said he could pull still out of the season’s first major, depending on his mother’s prognosis following surgery for lung cancer last week.
“Obviously, I’m still nervous because we’re still waiting to see … if it has spread or not,” said Day, who spoke Monday on a video conference set up by organizers of the PGA Tour’s Zurich Classic in late April. “From there, we have to kind of come up with a game plan whether to go chemo – a form of chemo radiation – or something else.
“It’s still kind of a bit of an emotional time for me,” added Day, whose father, Alvin, died of cancer when he was 12. “Obviously, I’ve been hanging out with my mom a bit and seeing her and she’s recovering well. She’s a tough lady, but it’s hard because I look at her and she’s on the pain killers and all that stuff, what she needs to do to recover … but I can’t help but think of my dad when I see her in that situation.”
The world’s third-ranked golfer revealed that his mother, Dening, has cancer after withdrawing from the Dell Technologies Match Play in Austin, Texas, last Wednesday. Day has said the initial diagnosis came in Australia at the beginning of this year and that she had scheduled surgery in Columbus, Ohio, late last week.
Day said Monday that doctors deemed the surgery successful, and now the family awaits results of tests to see if cancer is present in Dening Day’s lymph nodes.
“My mom told me not to worry about it,” Day said. “It’s hard to do that. It’s easy to say … but it’s really, really difficult. So currently I’m scheduled to play Augusta … but if things don’t come back the way we want them, I don’t know what’s going to happen.”
Day said he “hasn’t touched a golf club at all” in the days since joining his joining his mother in Ohio last week.
“It’s very, very difficult to even think about playing golf when a loved one is going through such a traumatic experience,” Day said. “Once I get past this initial stage, hopefully I’ll find some balance and I’ll be able to kind of move on and really focus on getting my game back.
“Unfortunately, I’m human. I like to feel like I’m always on it, I’m always … ready to go and trying to compete and I want to get back to that stage, but sometimes it’s very, very difficult.”
Day also is scheduled to participate in the Zurich Classic, which runs from April 27-30 and has changed to an unusual format featuring 80 two-player teams, with player picking their own partners. Teams will alternate shots in the first and third rounds and play best ball in the second and final rounds.
Day joked that he was enthusiastic about the new format as soon as Rickie Fowler agreed to be his teammate. He added that, as much as he respects tradition, golf needs to do a better job capturing younger viewers.
“Golf is kind of in a limbo stage right now. We’ve got to somehow be able to keep it traditional but also add some format play that makes it interesting and makes people want to watch the PGA Tour on a regular basis,” Day said. “This is kind of the first step in a direction that potentially could change the way we look at traditional stroke-play events.”
The pairing of Day and Fowler will make them favourites at the par-72 TPC Louisiana outside New Orleans. Other teams of note include Justin Rose with Henrik Stenson; Branden Grace with fellow South African Louis Oosthuizen; Bubba Watson with J.B. Holmes; Justin Thomas with Bud Cauley, who both played golf for Alabama; and Jason Dufner and Patton Kizzire, who played for Auburn.
Defending Zurich Classic champion Brian Stuard is paired with Chris Stroud.
The last time a PGA Tour event featured team play was the 1981 Disney Classic.