Jason Day is one of the biggest draws on the PGA Tour. A major champion and former world No.1-ranked golfer, the 31-year-old Australian has belted 12 career wins, including the 2015 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits.
The story of Day’s start in golf has become legend. After he and his father, Alvin, found an old 3-wood in the local dump near his rural childhood home in Beaudesert, Queensland, Day got swept up in the game. It was at least partially at the urging of his overbearing and abusive father, and Day began spending his after school hours at the local course.
Not long after Day began to find some success as a junior golfer, his father fell ill and lost a difficult battle with stomach cancer. Only, 12-years old, Day began to start fighting and drinking. In order to throw the brakes on a downward spiral, his mother, Dening, took a mortgage on their family’s home to send Day to the Kooralbyn boarding school. It was a prophetic decision.
From there the stars aligned, and with the help of his coach Col Swatton, Day charted his path to the highest echelons of the game – becoming the youngest Australian to win PGA tour in 2010, notching a major in 2015 and hitting the top of the world rankings in the same year.
On top of a solid career, Day and his wife Ellie have also built a picturesque family. The couple has three small children, Dash, Lucy and Arrow. Their close-knit dynamic is so intensely important to the Days they travel to tournaments together and stay on a bus as to not be apart for long stretches.
In 2017, Day’s mother was diagnosed with non-small cell lung cancer. While she is winning her battle, Day has partnered with AstraZeneca to advocate for biomarker testing, which helped her find treatment options.
While the Lexus brand ambassador hasn’t had a win this year or even his best stuff, but he has managed to rack up more than a few top tens and $2.6 million in earnings. Day needs an excellent showing this week to make it to the Tour Championship.
We caught up with Day just ahead of 2019 season’s penultimate event, to talk golf, fatherhood and what he’s learned from his parents’ battles with cancer, where the Aussie will need a truly excellent finish to make it to the tour championship.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
From my Father: Never say DIE.
Is there one moment you can point to that changed your life?
When my Mom enrolled me in the golf academy.
What advice would you impart to your younger self?
Don’t be so hard on yourself. Work harder but be patient.
What has been your greatest success?
On the Course, getting to world number one. Off the course – creating our family with Ellie.
And what did you learn from it?
On-Course: There is still more work to be done. Off-Course: That it’s always a work in progress that requires attention and much effort.
What advice do you most want to give to your kids?
Be your own person and follow your passion.
What is the most important lesson you’ve learned as a father?
How is your mother’s recovery progressing?
She is doing quite well.
Cancer has obviously been massively consequential in your life, and you’ve recently become an advocate for cancer awareness. What have you learned and what do you want to share?
To cherish your family and friends and live each day as if it was your last.
If you weren’t a golfer, you’d be a…?
Special Forces Military.
What tournament do you want to win the most?
You are someone who spends quite a bit of time to the gym. What does your basic routine look like?
I hit the gym pretty hard. Lot’s of combinations of strength and stretch exercises.
If you could only play one more round, whom would you play with and where would you choose?
My Father at Augusta National.