COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Jason Day has plenty of momentum entering this week’s PGA Championship after winning the AT&T Byron Nelson last week.
Winning on the PGA Tour is nothing new for Day. The Westerville resident has done it 13 times in his 17-year career but it took five long, arduous years to earn his latest victory.
“There was a lot of doubt in my mind to think that I would ever come back and be able to win again,” Day said Wednesday during his PGA Championship press conference.
Years of battling vertigo and debilitating back injuries nearly forced the former world No. 1 golfer to retire.
“It can almost be a feeling of depression sometimes just because of the amount of work that you’re putting in,” he said. “It feels like you’re going in and working 150% just to get 10% out of it.”
His life off the course was even more difficult as he mourned his mother, who died last year following a lengthy battle with lung cancer.
“I was not only struggling mentally, but struggling physically,” acknowledged Day, who enters the weekend ranked 20th. “At one point I was sitting there going, OK, well, I didn’t know if this was kind of the end for me.”
His persistence finally paid off. Since starting the season ranked 175th in the world, Day has six top 10 finishes and ranks sixth in the FedEx Cup standings.
“Once the momentum train starts, it takes awhile to get things going, but once it starts it starts going pretty fast,” Day said about his season so far.
That momentum carried the Australian native to six wins in 2015, including his first major victory at the PGA Championship. He’s back at that same major but he’s not the same golfer, or person, that he was then.
“I was in pain then and I would just push through it and that was just my mentality because it was like, ‘Hey I’m a big strong athlete and I’m going to push through it,'” Day said. “This time around I’ve been a lot more body aware and mentally aware of where I’m at and trying to hold off expectations.”
Winning is no longer the thing he strives for on the golf course.
“The wins kind of get in the way,” he said. “I think it’s more about the actual journey and working toward that and the hours that you get into practicing behind the scenes and working on your body and all that stuff. They’re the moments that I live for the most.”