KAPALUA, Hawaii - Jason Day, the promising young Australian who broke through with his first win at last year's HP Byron Nelson Championship, is finally feeling 100 percent after off-season sinus surgery.
Now he's just got to get over his trip to Maui for the season-opening Hyundai Tournament of Champions.
Jason, 23, and his wife, Ellie, were on an American Airlines flight from Dallas that was forced to land in Salt Lake City due to a sick passenger. American has very little presence in Salt Lake, and the plane was overweight with too much fuel. After a three-hour wait on the tarmac, it was finally decided that the plane should go back to Dallas to start over again with a new crew and more supplies.
After eight hours, the Days had merely gone from Dallas to Salt Lake and back to Dallas.
When they finally made it to Hawaii, they had to change planes, picking up their luggage and then re-checking it. The problem was it was so early in the morning there were no airport personnel on duty to check them in and get them through security during their long layover, so they went outside and lay on their backs in the parking lot, thoroughly exhausted, "for like three hours," Ellie said, laughing.
They finally arrived in Maui more than 24 hours after they'd started their journey, making the 45-minute-long drive to Kapalua in the dark. Not that they're complaining. There's no complaining in paradise.
Day double-bogeyed the fourth hole and shot an even-par 73 Thursday. He was well back of co-leaders Jonathan Byrd and Carl Pettersson, who each shot 66 in calm conditions. Day went to the practice putting green for 45 minutes after the round.
According to Ellie Day, fellow Dallas resident Hunter Mahan and his fiance, Kandi Harris, also were on the troubled American flight, as was Steve Stricker's caddie, Jimmy Johnson.
Playing with Ryder Cup singles foe Graeme McDowell, Mahan opened with a 70 at the Plantation Course on Thursday, edging McDowell by one, a reversal of their singles result three months ago.
Day's coach and caddie, Col Swatton, will marry his longtime girlfriend in Hawaii the Monday after next week's Sony Open. (Photo: Kohjiro Kinno/SI)