Day displays a son's devotion

By Rex HoggardMarch 22, 2017, 10:57 pm

AUSTIN, Texas – His head in his hands and tears streaming down his face, Jason Day did what his mother, Dening, taught him – carry on.

It wouldn’t be on the golf course, not this week. The defending champion at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play had just withdrawn after just six holes, but even Dening would understand his motivations.

Some 1,200 miles to the north in Columbus, Ohio, Dening was preparing for something that was much more important than golf – even golf at the highest level.

Overcome with emotion, Day explained that earlier this year Dening was diagnosed with lung cancer. It was, essentially, a death sentence, with doctors in Australia initially telling her the ailment was terminal.

But about week ago, Dening arrived in Columbus, Ohio, to undergo a battery of tests at the Ohio State University Medical Center and her outlook improved.

“The prognosis coming here wasn’t very positive. But now that she’s been here, they are more optimistic,” said Bud Martin, Day’s manager. “They feel like it’s something that hopefully, God willing, that it’s manageable.’

Dening is scheduled to have surgery on Friday and although Day arrived at Austin Country Club with the best of intentions, because that’s what Dening would want, six holes into his opening-day bout with Pat Perez the enormity of the moment caught up with him.

“It's really hard to even comprehend being on the golf course right now because of what she's gone through,” Day said. “She had a test done in Australia, and the doctor said she was terminal and only had 12 months to live. I'm glad I brought her over here. It's been really hard to play golf lately.”

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When Day’s father, Alvyn, died of stomach cancer when the would-be major champion and world No. 1 was just 12 years old, it was his mother, Dening, who pushed her son forward.

It was always Dening.

When Day fell in with the wrong crowd following his father’s death, it was Dening who worked two jobs to send the prodigy to a sport-specific school where he met Colin Swatton, who would become his swing coach, caddie, confidant and father figure.

“My mom took a second mortgage out on the house, borrowed money from my aunt and uncle, just to get me away from where I was to go to school, seven hours drive,” Day recalled after winning the 2015 PGA Championship, his first major triumph. “I mean we were poor.”

It was Dening who would cut the lawn with a knife because the family couldn't afford to fix the lawn mower. It was Dening who would heat up kettles of water for showers because the Day’s home didn’t have a hot-water tank.

Day’s truly remarkable story is often lost among his golf accomplishments, but his tale of perseverance is straight out of a Charles Dickens novel. He was always talented, incredibly driven and, eventually, lucky enough to cross paths with the likes of Swatton, but throughout it all it was Dening who was equal parts moral compass and motivational beacon.

Dening sacrificed so Day could attend Koralbyn International School in Queensland, and his desire to build a better life for Dening and his sisters drove him to be better, to be the best.

Some ascend to greatness driven by the desire for fame and fortune or the adrenaline rush of competition, but Day simply didn’t want to let Dening down. Not after everything that she’d done for him.

Throughout that less-than-ideal childhood, Dening always maintained a brave exterior. She had to for her children.

“I had to be tough,” she told the New York Times last spring.

So on Wednesday at the Match Play, Day walked away from the game, not because he wanted to quit – Dening would never allow that – but because he was tough enough to understand that something much more important was unfolding in Ohio.

Day didn’t take questions after his withdrawal. He probably wouldn’t have been able to contain his emotions had he tried. The Masters would be his next start, and Martin said he’s certain Day wants to play the first major but it depends on Dening’s health.

But even the Masters, which Day has made no secret is the tournament that means the most to him, doesn’t hold much appeal if Dening’s future is still uncertain.

“I just need some time away with her to make sure that everything goes well because this has been very, very tough for me,” Day said. “I'm going to do my best and try and be there the best I can for her because she is the reason that I'm playing golf today. And family is first.”

Martin spoke with Dening a few days ago and despite her own medical issues her matriarchal instincts remain as sharp as ever.

“The most important thing in her world is him playing golf and being happy,” Martin said. “I said, ‘I hear the news seems to be getting better. I want to make certain you are there during his Hall of Fame speech.’ She loves it.”

On Wednesday, it was the best of Dening that prompted Day to walk off the course, to be there for her, to carry on.

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Cook leads by one entering final round at CareerBuilder

By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 12:51 am

LA QUINTA, Calif. – Austin Cook played a six-hole stretch in 6 under and shot an 8-under 64 in breezy conditions Saturday to take the lead at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

Cook began the run at La Quinta Country Club with birdies on Nos. 4-5, eagled the sixth and added birdies on No. 7 and 9 to make the turn in 6-under 30.

After a bogey on the 10th, he birdied Nos. 11, 12 and 15 and saved par on the 18th with a 20-footer to take a 19-under 197 total into the final round on PGA West's Stadium Course. The 26-year-old former Arkansas player is making his first start in the event. He won at Sea Island in November for his first PGA Tour title.

Fellow former Razorbacks star Andrew Landry and Martin Piller were a stroke back. Landry, the second-round leader, had a 70 on the Stadium Course. Piller, the husband of LPGA tour player Gerina Piller, shot a 67 at La Quinta. They are both winless on the PGA Tour.

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Jon Rahm had a 70 at the Stadium Course to reach 17 under. The top-ranked player in the field at No. 3, Rahm beat up the par 5s again, but had four bogeys – three on par 3s. He has played the 12 par 5s in 13 under with an eagle and 11 birdies.

Scott Piercy also was two strokes back after a 66 at the Stadium.

Adam Hadwin had a 67 at La Quinta a year after shooting a third-round 59 on the course. The Canadian was 16 under along with Grayson Murray and Brandon Harkins. Murray had a 67 on PGA West's Jack Nicklaus Tournament Course, and Harkins shot 68 on the Stadium Course.

Phil Mickelson missed the cut in his first tournament of the year for the second time in his career, shooting a 74 on the Stadium Course to finish at 4 under – four strokes from a Sunday tee time.

The 47-year-old Hall of Famer was playing for the first time since late October. He also missed the cut in the Phoenix Open in his 2009 opener.

Charlie Reiter, the Palm Desert High School senior playing on the first sponsor exemption the event has given to an amateur, also missed the cut. The Southern California recruit had three early straight double bogeys in a 77 on the Stadium that left him 1 over for the week.

John Daly had an 80 at La Quinta. He opened with a triple bogey and had six bogeys – four in a row to start his second nine – and only one birdie. The 51-year-old Daly opened with a 69 on the Nicklaus layout and had a 71 on Friday at the Stadium.

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Mickelson misses CareerBuilder cut for first time in 24 years

By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 12:48 am

Phil Mickelson missed the cut Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge. It’s a rare occurrence in his Hall of Fame career.

He has played the event 15 times, going back to when it was known as the Bob Hope Classic. He has won it twice.

How rare is his missing the cut there?

The last time he did so, there was no such thing as a DVD, Wi-Fi, iPods, Xbox, DVR capability or YouTube.

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The PGA Tour’s Jon Rahm didn’t exist, either.

The last time Mickelson missed a cut in this event was 1994, nine months before Rahm was born.

Mickelson struggled to a 2-over-par 74 in the heavy winds Saturday on the PGA West Stadium Course, missing the 54-hole cut by four shots. He hit just four of 14 fairways, just nine of 18 greens. He took a double bogey at the 15th after requiring two shots to escape the steep-walled bunker on the left side of the green.

Mickelson won’t have to wait long to try to get back in the hunt. He’s scheduled to play the Farmers Insurance Open next week at Torrey Pines in La Jolla, Calif.

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Defending champ Gana co-leads Latin America Amateur

By Randall MellJanuary 20, 2018, 11:20 pm

Toto Gana moved into early position to try to win a return trip to the Masters Saturday by grabbing a share of the first-round lead at the Latin America Amateur Championship.

The defending champ posted a 3-under-par 68 at Prince of Wales Country Club in his native Chile, equaling the rounds of Argentina’s Mark Montenegro and Colombia’s Pablo Torres.

They are one shot ahead of Mexico’s Alvaro Ortiz and Mario Carmona, Argentina’s Horacio Carbonetti and Jaime Lopez Rivarola and the Dominican Republic’s Rhadames Pena.

It’s a bunched leaderboard, with 19 players within three shots of each at the top of the board in the 72-hole event.

“I think I have my game under control,” said Gana, 20, a freshman at Lynn University. “I hit the ball very well, and I also putted very well. So, I am confident about tomorrow.”

The LAAC’s champion will get more than a Masters invitation. He also will be exempt into the The Amateur, the U.S. Amateur and any other USGA event he is eligible to play this year. The champion and players who finish runner-up are also exempt into the final stages of qualifying for The Open and the U.S. Open.

The LAAC was founded by the Masters, the R&A and the USGA, with the purpose of further developing amateur golf in South America, Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean.

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LAAC returning to Casa de Campo in 2019

By Randall MellJanuary 20, 2018, 8:23 pm

The Latin America Amateur Championship will return to Casa de Campo in the Dominican Republic in 2019 (Jan. 17-20), event organizers announced Saturday in Chile, where this year’s championship is underway.

The LAAC champion receives an invitation to play the Masters at Augusta National Golf Club every spring.

The champion is also exempt into The Amateur, the U.S. Amateur and any other USGA event for which he is eligible to compete. The champion and players who finish runner-up are also exempt into the final stages of qualifying for The Open and the U.S. Open.

The LAAC was founded by the Masters, the R&A and the USGA, with the purpose of further developing amateur golf in South America, Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean.

The championship got its start in 2015 with Chile’s Matias Dominguez winning at Pilar Golf in Argentina. In 2016, Casa de Campo hosted, with Costa Rica’s Paul Chaplet winning. At 16, he became the first player from Central America to compete in the Masters. In 2017, Chile’s Toto Gana won the title at  Club de Golf de Panama.