In a pre-U.S. Open media session, Jason Day outlined his mysterious health concerns, which seemed a combination of vertigo and exhaustion, but he smiled and reported: “I feel good.”
Between the No. 9 tee and green Friday at Chambers Bay, his final hole of the second round of the 115th U.S. Open Championship, Day collapsed. Medical personnel attended to him, and he finished the hole with a bogey. Afterward, the 27-year-old Australian signed his scorecard and was taken to the mobile home on the course property in which he’d been staying with his wife and son.
He was later examined by local doctors Robert Stoecker and Charles Souliere, who said he is suffering from Benign Positional Vertigo, according to his agent, Bud Martin. Martin said Day was resting comfortably.
“His condition is being monitored closely and he is hopeful he will be able to compete this weekend in the final rounds of the U.S. Open,” Martin said in a press release. “He wants to thank all who treated him at the Franciscan Medical Group and thank all of the fans and friends who have reached out to he and his family.”
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Day was just three strokes off the tournament lead when he finished his round. He shot 70 and made the cut with a two-day total of 2-under-par 138.
Jordan Spieth, playing in Day’s threesome, said that Day hadn’t said anything about feeling poorly before he collapsed.
“It wasn’t mentioned by him earlier in the round,” Spieth said. “I was walking with him, next thing I know I think he had gotten dizzy and fell. He didn’t mention much after the round.”
Tiger Woods said that Day is one of his “really close friends.”
“I know he didn’t play in Dallas this year because of vertigo,” Woods said. “I played with him at Memorial and we talked about it in depth.”
On Monday, Day said he’d gone through a series of three sleep studies, blood tests, MRIs on his head and neck. “Everything came back negative,” Day said. “So I have no idea what that was, other than I just may have been exhausted.”
He said he had been putting himself through two training sessions a day on top of practicing golf and playing in tournaments.
“I think I just ran out of gas and I wasn’t feeling good, so I had the shakes and tingling up my arms. The total loss of energy and strength was probably caused by that. I’ve got severe sleep deprivation, so I guess that’s part and parcel of having a kid … that’s just life.”
But he clearly was focused on marshaling his energy this week. He said he’d taken a half-hour nap before coming into the interview room on Thursday.
Day is considered among the best-liked players on the Tour. An orphan at 12, he was inspired to develop his golf game by reading a book on Tiger Woods.
Day has become a master of scoring in major tournaments, having had three runner-up finishes — including two at U.S. Opens.
“It’s all about the attitude,” Day said heading into the tournament. “You have to have a good attitude in U.S. Opens; it’s easy to play yourself out of the tournament really quickly here. If you make a mistake, you have to just keep pushing forward and pushing forward and can’t give up.”
He provided an example of that from his first hole on Friday, when he pulled his tee ball up into the heavy rough on a steep sideslope to the left of the 10th fairway. He scrambled to bogey the hole, and he remained steady thereafter, helped along by holing his approach shot on No. 1 for a dramatic birdie.
Most golf observers see Day as ready for a breakthrough event. Before fighting the exhaustion problems, Day was off to a great start this season, shooting a final round 62 in the Hyundai Tournament of Champions.
Day is popular among fans, too. During one of his practice rounds, he allowed the son of a woman who is ill with ALS to walk inside the ropes with him and his group, which included Woods and Dustin Johnson.
“We’re very gifted with what we do,” Day explained. “When we can give back and make someone’s dream come true, maybe meeting their idol or being able to walk the course with Tiger or Dustin … to be able to do that is pretty cool.”
Day said he learned the lesson of life’s impermanence when his father died when Day was 12.
“No matter what you have in life,” he said. “We all take it for granted some times,” he said.