Jason Day Golfer: The game of golf can be a cruel mistress.
A golfer can do everything right over the course of a round or a competition, only to experience the misfortune or running up against a competitor who did everything right as well, but had an instance or two of good fortune, that leaving the first golfer with little to show for his or her efforts.
The line separating the world’s top golfers from the thousands with equivalent talent who labour in obscurity can be a razor-thin margin, something like a difference of an half stroke per round, which could have been the difference between making a six foot putt to save a par or missing it by mere millimeters.
Against this backdrop, the career of one of the more successful Australian golfers, Jason Day, proves an apt illustration.
He has cracked the top echelon of professional golfers, becoming a fixture on the PGA tour at a young age. It seems only a question of time and persistence, along with that intangible element of fortune, until he wins one of the big events or even several more of the regular tour events that regularly finds him at or near the top of the leaderboard.
Jason Day was born 12 November 1987 in Beaudesert, Queensland. He is 1.82 metres tall and weighs 75 kg. His father is Irish and his mother Filipino. Jason was married in 2009 to Ellie Harvey, three years after he began his professional golfing career. The couple has one son, Dash James, born in 2012. He maintains a residence in Forest Lake, Queensland and another in Westerville, Ohio, adjacent to the Firestone Country Club.
Day and his family moved to Rockhampton when he was eight. He had two years of golf experience at this point and he was already starting to show promise, winning junior amateur events in the districts surrounding Rockhampton.
Jason attended school at Kooralbyn near Beaudesert. The school had its own golf course where he had ample opportunity to develop his talent. He continued his education at Hill International College, at the same time taking part in the school’s Golf Academy.
Jason Day credits as his inspiration to take his natural talent and combine it with the hard work that must accompany that talent to a book about Tiger Woods. He began practicing three times a day, as he read in Wood’s account and the effort bore fruit. Jason won a big tournament in 2000 that was held on the Gold Coast. Today, he would probably shake his head ruefully if reminded of his scores for that event, but his 317 aggregate for four rounds was impressive for a 13-year-old.
His career as an amateur was understandably brief, there being no point in playing for trophies when those trophies can be augmented by substantial prize money.
He did earn the Australian Junior Order of Merit on two occasions, and he had a respectable seventh place finish, taking low-amateur honours in the Queensland Open. He also notched the Australian Boys’ Championship in 2004. A stint in the United States saw him winning his age division in the Callaway World Junior Championship as well a very respectable runner-up finish in the 2005 Porter Cup. He has also been recognised as a member of the Golf Australia national Squad, which has such names as Geoff Ogilvy, Adam Scott, Karrie Webb, Katherine Hull and Aaron Baddeley on its rolls.
Jason Day began his professional career in July of 2006. He plunged straight away into playing PGA events; however, his inclusion was predominantly due to receiving sponsors’ exemptions, which is in no way meant to imply that he did not deserve to be playing in the top ranks. His results certainly justified his presence. He made the cut five times in his first six tournaments, although he finished no better than eleventh place. He did accumulate over $160,000 in prize money.
He then went to the PGA Qualifying School and made it into the finals to earn his card, but he did not play up to his full potential. This was in 2007. Failing to earn his PGA Tour card, he did manage to earn status on the 2007 nationwide Tour.
He won his first professional event that same year, the Legend Financial Group Classic. The substantial payday from that win, along with his other consistent high finishes, meant that he was exempt from qualifying for the primary PGA stops in 2008. He did not do especially well in his rookie season, securing only conditional status for 2009. He finished 69th on the money list for that season.
His big breakthrough came in 2010. In May of that year, he won the HP Byron Nelson Championship, the youngest man ever to win on the PGA Tour, in Irving, Texas-part of the Dallas-Fort Worth metro area. The tournament is considered very prestigious, just below the Majors, due to its history, large purse and the influence Byron Nelson had on the game of golf.
He then began to qualify for the Majors, earning the nod in the 2010 Open Championship after fellow Aussie Greg Norman withdrew. Not long after, he earned his first top-ten in a Major when he shot a scintillating 66 on moving day. This, consistent finishes in other Tour events, and a respectable showing in the FedEx Cup, saw him climbing to 21st on the money list.
2011 found Jason Day playing in the U.S. Open, where he followed up a most impressive tie for second in The Masters with a sole second-place finish. He ended the season ranked ninth in the world and ninth on the PGA money list.
The following season, he contended fiercely in The Masters, holding the lead briefly in the final round before winding up in third. He repeated his impressive Major tournament play when he again took second in the U.S. Open.
Jason Day seems to thrive on the big stage of the Majors. He is very solid in all aspects of the game, distance and accuracy off the tee, proximity to the pin, scrambling and putting. He does seem slightly prone to experience some jitters when it comes to prime time, but if he continues to place himself in contention and maintain his dedication to the game, as all signs seem to indicate he will, it is only a matter of time before he begins to treat regular PGA Tour stop wins as tune-ups for a Major victory.