An emotional Jason Day revealed he thought of quitting the game in ending a five-year winless drought to capture a second AT&T Byron Nelson championship at TPC Harding Ranch in Texas.
Day, 35, had not tasted success since capturing the 2018 Wells Fargo Championship but is back in the winner’s enclosure thanks to a stunning closing round 62 to claim a 13th PGA Tour win and the 19th victory in his pro career.
Waiting to greet the Aussie on a wet Mother’s Day afternoon in suburban Dallas was his pregnant wife Ellie and their four children before Day was handed a second Byron Nelson trophy 13-years after he broke through to win for a first time on the PGA Tour.
However, for those observers of the pro game, we know it’s not been all plain sailing for Day between battling injury, illness and also the sadness last year of losing his mother.
And it comes as no surprise when the 2015 PGA Championship winner revealed following his win that he was close to quitting the game.
“Yeah, I was in tears for a little bit there, and to think about what my mom went through from 2017 on to her passing last year and then to know that — it was very emotional to go through and to experience what she was going through, then I had injuries on top of all of that going on in my life,” said Day.
“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.
“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.
“Yeah, I don’t know. 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, and I know that there’s been a lot of very hard work behind the scenes that a lot of people haven’t seen. But that’s just the competition part of the journey and trying to strive to get better. It’s nice to be able to get my 13th win”.
Being Mother’s Day, event organisers arranged for the first name of the players’ mother’s name to be on each of the caddy bibs with Day not realising this until the pleasant surprise in seeing the name ‘Denning’ on his caddy’s bib.
“It didn’t hit me until I looked at my caddie and he had his back to me on the first green, and I’m like, oh, that’s my mom’s name,” said Day. “That’s when it kind of hit me where I was like, oh, it’s — because they asked at the start of the week if you wanted to put down a certain name, and my mom’s name was it, and that’s when it kind of hit me was on the first green today.
“I guess when you get in the heat of the battle and you’re trying to win a tournament, especially for me over the last five years, I haven’t won one, you kind of quickly just go, okay, I’ve got to compartmentalise my priorities here and focus on trying to win this golf tournament. At least get myself into contention to win it.”
Victory has seen Day move to 20th on the World Rankings, a jump of 77 spots since the start of the year while he’s up to 5th on the FedEx Cup standings.
And he now heads to this week’s PGA Championship in upstate New York in the best of form.
“The highs and lows of golf is interesting,” he said. “You definitely learn a lot about yourself through the lows more so than the highs obviously. I learned that I can handle the pressure still and focus, and I’ve still got the game to win.
“But a lot of that success today was based off a lot of the groundwork, six months ago, a year ago, two years ago, that built the game to where it is today, where I can succeed on a level like this.
“Yeah, I know that delayed gratification is probably the best feeling of all time. Instant gratification is great, but delayed gratification is the best”.
Jason Day – With his AT & T Byron Nelson Championship win
- Jason Day wins the AT&T Byron Nelson, earning his 13th career PGA TOUR title and first since the 2018 Wells Fargo Championship
- Victory comes in Day’s 106th start since the 2018 Wells Fargo Championship (5 years, 8 days ago)
- Day, who also won the AT&T Byron Nelson in 2010, becomes the seventh player in tournament history with multiple titles
- Day’s final-round 62 is the low finish by a winner on TOUR since Tom Kim at the 2022 Wyndham Championship (61)
- World No. 2 and Dallas resident Scottie Scheffler finishes T5, his 12th consecutive result of T12 or better
- Two-time defending champion K.H. Lee finishes T50
- Earns his 13th career PGA TOUR title, and first since the 2018 Wells Fargo Championship, in his 326th career start on TOUR
- 106th start since the 2018 Wells Fargo Championship (a span of 5 years, 8 days)
- 83rd player to reach 13 wins on the PGA TOUR and first since Jordan Spieth at the 2022 RBC Heritage
- Moves from No. 32 to No. 5 in the FedExCup standings, his highest position of the season
- Moves from No. 35 to No. 20 in the Official World Golf Ranking, moving back into the top 20 for the first time since July 14, 2019
- Second career win at the AT&T Byron Nelson; victory in 2010 was his first career PGA TOUR title
- Seventh player to win multiple titles at the AT&T Byron Nelson, joining Tom Watson (4), Sam Snead (3), Sergio Garcia (2), K.H. Lee (2), Bruce Lietzke (2) and Jack Nicklaus (2)
- Final-round 62 is the lowest finish by a winner on TOUR since Tom Kim shot 61 in the final round of the 2022 Wyndham Championship
- 62 ties his career-low final-round score on TOUR (2015 Sentry Tournament of Champions, 2015 FedEx St. Jude Championship)
- Seven top-10s this season, his most in a season since 2015-16 (10)
- Lowest score on TOUR since the second round of the 2021 Travelers Championship (62)
- Will make his 14th start in the PGA Championship next week, which he won in 2015; last player to win on TOUR and win a major the following week: Rory McIlroy, 2014 WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, PGA Championship
- Has won in back-to-back starts twice on TOUR: 2015 PGA Championship-2015 FedEx St. Jude Championship (then The Barclays) and 2016 Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard-2016 WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play.
Leave a comment