Jason Day of Australia, whose mother is battling cancer, said if she could make it to the Masters this year, that would be great. File photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo
Jason Day won his first major at Whistling Straits in 2015, beating No. 1 Jordan Spieth to claim it, but returning to golf under emotional circumstances would make winning the 2017 Masters a dream scenario.
"This is my favorite week of the year," Day said Tuesday morning. "To be able to do it this year would be great. Even if I don't win it will be nice to have my mom here. She's never been here. Hopefully she's healthy enough to fly down here. With that said, I can't get too far ahead of myself. ... Sunday is very long way away."
Day's mother, Adenil, had about 25 percent of her left lung removed in a five-hour surgery on March 24 as part of cancer treatment last month, when Day took a hiatus to be by her side. She was told before the surgery her life expectancy was around 12 months. Day said his mother, who is 4-foot-11, is so stubborn she went three months coughing up blood before telling anyone.
"Golf was the last thing on my mind," Day said. "Golfers as a whole are very, very selfish, we're very selfish in our ways. We have to be selfish with our time to get better at our craft. Sometimes with family, family has to overcome anything else. ... When you sit here and think about 'OK, I don't have a dad and I don't have grandparents. My mom has cancer and if she goes I've got no one other than my two sisters.' You just forget that maybe you should've spent a little more time with your family. Spending more time with them and enjoy them. It was emotional. But everyone is blessed and happy."
The outlook is much brighter after surgery, but Day said he feels lighter and refreshed knowing "the hard stuff is behind us."
Emotional and sparkly-eyed upon his arrival at Augusta National for the 2017 Masters, Day was uncertain if his mom would be in Georgia this week. She's not able to walk long distances and flying could be considered a risk.
After six holes at the WGC-Match Play event, Day withdrew because he said he felt "selfish being there playing. I want to be with my mom and making sure the surgery went well."
Day said he "needed to make sure mom was OK" before he finalized plans to fly to play in the Masters, where he has only one sub-70 round in 14 attempts.
The Australian has finished in the top four in eight of 25 career majors.
But Day said he arrives at Augusta feeling like he already won. His mother's health was a primary concern, but when she learned Monday there would be no chemotherapy treatment required, Day knew he was good to go back to golf. It didn't hurt that he received hundreds of thousands of messages via social media, email and phone calls.
"If we could have more people like that, the world will be in a better place," Day said of his many supportive fans.
"From peers to sponsors to fans, text messages and emails I got and my agent got ... it meant a lot. To be able to have people reach out to me and my team about the current situation we were going to was special to us. It meant a lot to us. Cancer affects so many people. It's a very painful thing to go through and watch someone -- you don't expect to go through it. We're very, very pleased to be able to get through this stage and hopefully she can live a long while."