Honest Day relieved in more ways than one

By Rex HoggardApril 3, 2017, 5:18 pm

AUGUSTA, Ga. – Jason Day is an open book.

It’s not part of any well-crafted media image or a competitive firewall, just the way he is. Unlike many top athletes he’s always figured if he’s upfront with the press and public it will only give people a better understanding of who he is and what he stands for.

Sometimes life on a sodium pentathol drip can be enlightening – like when Day spoke in unabashed terms about his desire to be the world No. 1. Other times, like two weeks ago at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, it can be an emotional marathon.

Six holes into his opening-day match at Austin (Texas) Country Club last month, Day bolted the course and hastily called a press conference. He told the assembled scribes that his mother, Dening, had been diagnosed with lung cancer, that doctors in Australia had given her 12 months to live and that he’d flown her to Ohio and she was scheduled to undergo surgery two days later.

It wasn’t easy – not for Day or anyone else in that room – but it’s his way.

“I always want to be honest with you, the media and the fans,” Day said on Monday at Augusta National where he is preparing for his first start since that Day 1 withdrawal from the Match Play. “I just felt like I was lying by not telling anyone and that’s not me.”

For weeks leading up to his revelation, Day had been asked repeatedly about being unseated atop the World Golf Ranking by Dustin Johnson and his relatively slow start to the season, all along he was wrestling with the much more pressing and personal issue of getting his mother to the United States and into a more optimistic treatment program.

The surgery, which was conducted on March 25 at the Ohio State Medical Center, went well and Dening is well into her recovery. In fact, Day said if she continues to improve she could possibly travel to Augusta National this weekend.

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“She’s good, she had the left quarter of her lung taken out on the left side; I was with her pretty much every day back home,” Day said after a nine-hole practice round. “She’s in a fair amount of pain but hopefully things are looking up.”

Normally, under situations like this, golf can be a much-needed distraction - an escape from a harsh reality. But for Day, the last few months have been an emotional tug of war.

He wanted to play because that’s what Dening would have wanted. “She’s always wants me to play, that’s all she wants,” he said.

He felt guilty he couldn’t focus on his golf, guilty that he wasn’t there for his mother – who has been such a central part of his life since his father died of cancer when he was 12 years old – guilty because the drive that lifted him to No. 1 world had been replaced by anxiety and uncertainty.

“I’ve felt lost,” he admitted.

Although Day was decidedly more upbeat on Monday at Augusta National than he was two weeks ago at the Match Play, that doesn’t mean he isn’t dealing with the same internal dialogue that has haunted him since January.

Golf is his day job, it’s a dream come true and the result of years of sacrifice, both by Day and Dening, who had to work two jobs to send her son to a sports-specific school when he was a teenager.

He’d said all along that he was trying his best but the results just weren’t there, that he felt his game wasn’t that far from where he was competitively in 2015 when he won five times, including his first major triumph.

But that kind of focus is hard to achieve when your world is being shaken and there is so little you can do to change things.

“There’s been a lot of things go on this year that have been somewhat distracting to my golf; golf was the last thing that I was ever thinking about when this first came about,” Day said. “I’m in a much better place now, being able to be here this year is a special week, not only for me being here but have my mom in safe hands.”

Some professional athletes wouldn’t have been comfortable opening themselves up like Day, worried how they would be perceived or reluctant to show such emotion, but that’s not Day. He really doesn’t have any unspoken thoughts and that personality trait applies in good times and bad.

“I’m human, just like you, just like everyone else,” he said. “It was actually helpful that I could tell everyone and be honest. That’s just the way I am.”

It’s also one of many things that make Day one of the game’s most endearing players.

Cabreras take 1-shot lead in Father/Son

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 11:23 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Two-time major champion Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. birdied their last three holes for a 13-under 59 to take a one-shot lead Saturday in the PNC Father-Son Challenge.

Cabrera, a Masters and U.S. Open champion, is making his debut in this popular 36-hole scramble. His son said he practiced hard for 10 days. What helped put him at ease was watching his father make so many putts.

''We combined very well,'' Cabrera said. ''When I hit a bad shot, he hit a good one. That's the key.''

They had a one-shot lead over Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara, who are playing for the first time. That included a birdie on the last hole, which O'Meara attributed to the strength of his son.

''My little man hit it 58 yards by me on the 18th,'' said O'Meara, the Masters and British Open champion in 1998. ''It's a little easier coming in with a 6-iron.''

Defending champions David Duval and Nick Karavites rallied over the back nine at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club for a 61. They are trying to become the first father-son team to repeat as winners since Bernhard and Stefan Langer in 2006. Larry Nelson won two years in a row in 2007 and 2008, but with different sons.

''I'd imagine we have to break 60 tomorrow to have a chance to win, but hey, stranger things have happened,'' Duval said. ''I've even done it myself.''

Duval shot 59 at the Bob Hope Classic to win in 1999 on his way to reaching No. 1 in the world that year.

Duval and his stepson were tied with Bernhard Langer and 17-year-old Jason Langer, who made two eagles on the last five holes. This Langer tandem won in 2014.

Jack Nicklaus, playing with grandson G.T., opened with a 68.

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Woods' 2018 schedule coming into focus ... or is it?

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 16, 2017, 5:46 pm

Two weeks after his successful return to competition at the Hero World Challenge, Tiger Woods’ 2018 schedule may be coming into focus.

Golfweek reported on Saturday that Woods hopes to play the Genesis Open in February according to an unidentified source with “direct knowledge of the situation.”

Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg declined to confirm the 14-time major champion would play the event and told GolfChannel.com that Woods – who underwent fusion surgery to his lower back in April – is still formulating his ’18 schedule.

Woods’ foundation is the host organization for the Genesis Open and the event supports the Tiger Woods Learning Center in Anaheim, Calif.

The Genesis Open would be Woods’ first start on the PGA Tour since he missed the cut last January at the Farmers Insurance Open.

Rose weathering delayed Indonesian Masters

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 3:52 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead after eight holes of the third round Saturday when play was suspended for the day due to bad weather at the Indonesian Masters.

Rose was 3-under on the day and led his playing partners Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Scott Vincent. The Englishman led both players by a stroke after the second round was completed Saturday morning due to weather delays on Friday.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.

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Lexi (wrist) WDs from Diamond Resorts Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 11:27 pm

Lexi Thompson on Friday withdrew from the Diamond Resorts Invitational, citing inflammation in her wrist. Thompson, who teamed with Tony Finau to finish tied for fourth place in last week's QBE Shootout, said she is under strict doctor's order not to hit golf balls until mid-January.

The Diamond Resorts Invitational is scheduled Jan. 12-14 at Tranquilo Golf Club in Orlando, Fla. The field for te 54-hole event includes LPGA and PGA Tour Champions players, as well as celebrities from the worlds or sports and entertainment.