Back mishap  just what Day needed to contend  at Masters
Published on: Sunday, April 14, 2019

AUGUSTA: Aggravating a back injury minutes before starting the Masters might have been just what Jason Day needed to get into contention for his first green jacket.

The 31-year-old Australian fired a five-under par 67 Friday to stand in a pack on seven-under 137 after 36 holes at Augusta National in the year’s first major golf tournament.

But it was his gritty 70 on Thursday while wincing in pain on nearly every step over the undulating layout that helped take his mind off just how much he hungers to win the Masters.

“Sometimes it’s almost a blessing in disguise with regards to it just brings down the expectation of going out there and trying too hard,” Day said.  “Was great to be able to get through that, and I’m hoping that I can take the same attitude — even though I feel pretty healthy now — into the next two days and play well.”

Day, who won his only major title at the 2015 PGA Championship, bent over to hug his daughter on the practice putting green two minutes before his tee time and felt his balky back go out.

“It’s obviously not the way you wanted to start,” Day said. “I’ve been battling back issues pretty much this whole year.”

Day, ranked 14th, opened with a bogey and considered withdrawing but then had treatment from a physical therapist on the second and fourth tees and kept going.

“This is not my first time where my back has gone out, so I kind of know the protocol of trying to get myself back into at least game mode to get out there and play,” Day said.

“It was sore and it was hard to walk uphill because I couldn’t put a lot of weight on my left hand side.”

Day had treatment and ice on his back and went through round two without problems, although for a guy who has battled back pain since age 13 that’s always relative.

“Every day I feel like I wake up with some sort of aches,” Day said. “You just learn to live with it and go along the way.

“Sometimes I wake up and I feel like I’m 50, sometimes I wake up and I feel like I’m 70, and sometimes I wake up and feel like I’m 18 again. It just comes and goes.”

Day, whose best Masters finish was second in 2011, says he’s doing all he can to maximize his golf longevity, but he draws the line at surgery.

“No. No. No, no, no, no. I want to stay away from that as much as possible,” he said. “Once you cut yourself, you can’t undo what you’ve done in there, so if I can just stay away from that, that’s the number one key.”

Meanwhile, Rory McIlroy entered the Masters as an oddsmakers pick to win the green jacket and complete a career Grand Slam but he reached the weekend just happy to make the cut.

The four-time major winner fired a one-under par 71 on Friday to stand on level par 144 in a share of 36th after 36 holes at Augusta National.

That put the Northern Ireland star, who played in the day’s final group, seven strokes adrift of a record pack of five 36-hole co-leaders — all of them major winners.  – AFP



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