It doesn’t seem that long ago that Jason Day was the number 1 player in the world. Winning a major at the PGA at Whistling Straits then tearing through the FedEx Cup playoffs with enormous accurate drives and the hottest putter on the planet. But in golf, as quickly as the success can come, it can disappear even quicker. A laundry list of injuries and personal issues ensued and took its toll on Day, a professional in a sport that is definitely easier to play when you have a clear mind and are in a good place. He had neither, and add a bad back to boot.
Day has shown signs of a return to form in 2022, and he looked like the man of old last week at the Wells Fargo. He led after 36 holes shooting 63-67. But then the weather turned even worse for the 3rd round. Cold and rainy with temps in the low 50’s present a struggle for any player, even the world’s best…but it is an enormous obstacle for a player with back issues. Day struggled and shot 79 on Saturday to fall way down the leaderboard.
The weather and his physical health was an obvious factor, but perhaps his mental health wasn’t where it needed to be either. And rightfully so. The next day, Sunday, was Mother’s Day. And Day just lost his mom to an incredibly brave 5-year battle with cancer in March.
Adenil “Dening” Day was 65 and had been living with Jason and his family in Columbus for the last couple of years. “Last night, my mum peacefully left us,” Day, who withdrew from that week’s Arnold Palmer Invitational to be by his mother’s side, wrote on Instagram. “We are heartbroken but incredibly grateful for the gift we had in her living with us for the last almost two years full-time. She fought so hard until the very last breath. I am forever indebted to her for the sacrifices she made for me to be successful, and for the person she helped me to become. We will miss her so much.”
Jason’s father passed away from stomach cancer when he was only 12, and Dening raised him and his 2 sisters as a single mother. Jason began to get in trouble as a young teen and Dening had to make a sacrifice. She borrowed money from his uncle and sold their house so she could afford to enroll Jason in a boarding school that also had a golf program. It was there where Jason met his mentor, father-figure, coach, and caddie, Colin Swatton. The two began a journey that would ultimately land them both in the US and on the PGA Tour.
Dening was first diagnosed with lung cancer in 2017. Jason announced it and withdrew from the Dell Match Play. Doctors gave her a year to live. But with expert treatment in Day’s home of Columbus, she was able to beat it. But the cancer returned a few years later and she moved in with Jason and his family full-time.
It’s tough to play golf with a heavy heart, but I hope Jason can continue what we saw early last week and play for the spirit of his mom and the sacrifices she made for him to have the career he has. He is one of my favorite players on tour and it’s been tough to watch him struggle with his physical injuries. Emotional discomfort is worse. I hope he finds peace. He has a beautiful family and a lot of great golf ahead of him.
Enjoy the game and each other – especially mom,
Seth Zipay – Head Golf Professional