Inspired by his young son’s interest in golf, Jason Day is off to a good start at the Rocket Mortgage Classic despite a prolonged balky back.
The 33-year-old Australian shot a 1st-round 67 on Thursday at Detroit Golf Club, completed just before another storm in early afternoon dumped on the already saturated Donald Ross-designed course. When play was halted, Day was two strokes out of the clubhouse lead held by Brandon Hagy (65).
You may remember Dash, who turns age 9 on Saturday, July 10, for his joyous following of his father during PGA Tour events. That has been particularly evident when Day has completed one of his 12 PGA Tour wins — 11 of those during Dash’s lifetime — on the 18th green. Dash would usually sprint out to his father.
“(Dash) asked if I was a celebrity the other day and I said no,” Day said, “because I want him to look at me like I'm his dad instead of a celebrity. I want him to be able to not look at me like a celebrity and that I'm a golfer, that I'm a good golfer, that I'm there to help him whenever he needs me.”
That interaction has helped Day work his way out of a competitive rut. He hasn’t won since the 2018 Wells Fargo Championship in Charlotte, N.C., beset by lingering back issues. He tweaked his back at the Memorial Tournament in early June, withdrew and his been trying to get back in form. At the Travelers Championship last week he was in contention despite back tightness and allergy issues. The physical ailments date back to a scary moment at the 2015 U.S. Open at Chambers Bay when he collapsed on a fairway because of vertigo.
“It feels like a lifetime,” Day said of the time since his last victory. “I feel like I'm not done yet. I know that I've just got to keep pushing.
“… I guess rest enough to kind of recover. Then you go from not really prepping to going into Travelers to going kind of full bore and hitting it how you can. I can see why it tightened up, but it was fine. There's nothing wrong, it was just sore.”
A remedy to his lacking game has been the return to a familiar brand of putter. He experimented with another style and has since returned to his trusty Spider.
“My putting has definitely eased a lot of the pressure, whereas at the start of the year I thought I had no idea what I was doing putting-wise and wasn't holing a lot of putts,” Day said. “I'm starting to see the ball go in before I hit the putt and when I was putting my best, that's what I started to see. Putting was, like I said before, the sun in my universe and I've just got to keep working on it and that takes a lot of pressure off my game.”
The Days celebrated the birth of their fourth child, son Oz, a couple of weeks ago, offering further inspiration for Day to pick up his game.
“For (Dash) to be able to play golf has inspired me to kind of work a little bit harder to stay out here a lot longer because if I can do that, hopefully one day we can play in the Father-Son and maybe he can caddie for me,” Day said. “That would be awesome. There's a lot of benefits from me and him playing golf.”