AUSTIN, Texas -- Defending champion Jason Day of Australia withdrew from the World Golf Championships-Dell Technologies Match Play after six holes on Wednesday to be with his ailing mother, who has been diagnosed with terminal lung cancer and will have surgery on Friday in Columbus, Ohio.
"My mom has lung cancer," Day said as he choked back tears while in the media center at Austin Country Club. "She's going in for surgery Friday. It's really hard to even comprehend being on the golf course right now because of what she's gone through."
Day, ranked No. 3 in the world, conceded his first-round match in pool play on Wednesday on the sixth green. He was 3-down to Pat Perez after a double bogey on the par-5 fifth. Perez had birdied both the par -4 second hole and the par-3 fifth.
According to Day, his mother, Dening Day, 60, was diagnosed with lung cancer earlier this year and was given just 12 months to live by her doctors in Australia. Day brought her to the James Cancer Center at the Ohio State University earlier this week and was encouraged by a more optimistic diagnosis.
The first step to any recovery, Day said, was to remove the lump in his mother's lung.
"I just need some time away with her to make sure that everything goes well because this has been very, very tough for me," Day said. "So I'm going to do my best and try and be there the best I can for her because she is the reason that I'm playing golf today. And family is first and it's just -- it's just a hard time.
"Emotionally, it's been wearing on me for a while. And I know my mom says not to let it get to me, but it really has."
Day's agent, Bud Martin, told the assembled media that Day tried to play out of a responsibility to his fans and the tournament and because his mother asked him.
"It goes without saying that it's a real stress on him," Martin said. "Jason could have withdrawn from this tournament (before it started) but didn't do it. He got out here and -- who knows what goes through someone's mind when they are trying to compete at this level.
"He feels very bad about withdrawing as any champion would. He just couldn't go on competing. The most important thing in his world right now is being with his mom Friday during that surgery. Being by her side in Ohio is something that I think just overwhelmed him."