ERIN, Wis. (AP) — Jason Day raved about Erin Hills. He joked about buying a house in Wisconsin and giving cheese a try should he win the U.S. Open this weekend. He brushed off Cleveland’s NBA Finals loss to Golden State.
Day is feeling good again. On the course and, more importantly, at home.
Day’s mother, Dening, had surgery for lung cancer in March, and the world’s No. 3 golfer said Tuesday she is doing well. She had more scans recently, and the results are on the way to her doctors.
For Day, it’s a little peace of mind after a rough time at the start of the year.
“When someone has cancer and you don’t know whether or not they’re going to survive or what the outcome is going to happen – and plus with my mom, who sacrificed a lot for me to be in this position today, it was tough,” said the 29-year-old Day, who was 12 when his father died of stomach cancer. “I mean it was – I don’t wish it upon anyone. It’s something that I could never – I didn’t want to focus on golf. I didn’t want to be on the golf course, because I knew she was at home.”
Day withdrew from the Dell Technologies Match Play in March so he could be with his mother. He returned for the Masters, where he tied for 22nd at 2-over par. After missing the cut in the Zurich Classic and tying for 60th at The Players Championship, his game started to round into form.
Day, who began the year ranked No. 1, got into a playoff with Billy Horschel at AT&T Byron Nelson last month, but lost when he missed a short par putt. He followed with another encouraging performance at the Memorial, tying for 15th at 5 under.
“Momentum, it’s key – I think momentum is more key during tournament rounds than actually looking at it,” he said. “Because, yeah, I’m starting to get a lot more confidence over the last two events I’ve played compared to the first nine events that I played. But I look at more during the round knowing that, OK, the middle part of my round’s probably the hardest part of my round, per se.”
The U.S. Open at expansive Erin Hills, located about 35 miles northwest of Milwaukee, brings Day back to the same state where he claimed the biggest of his 10 PGA Tour victories two years ago. The Australian broke through for his first major win in the 2015 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits in Sheboygan, shooting 20 under for a three-shot victory over Jordan Spieth.
So naturally, he is quite fond of the home of the cheeseheads.
“There’s a lot of good memories coming back,” he said. “The people are fantastic. I love the people up here. Very, very nice. Very genuine people. If I pick one up here, great. That would be a really neat thing to be able to win my first two majors in the state of Wisconsin. Definitely like the golf courses up here. They’re tremendous golf courses. But I’m just trying to do the best job I can.”
Day’s best work usually plays quite well at the U.S. Open. He has five top-10 finishes in the last six years, including runner-up at Congressional in 2011 and Merion in 2013.
“Everyone is going to run into some sort of trouble out there, everyone is,” he said. “It’s a matter of how you handle yourself in that moment to prepare yourself to greatness. … I’d much rather the course be harder than easier. Tough conditions, windy conditions, rain whatever it is, as long as it’s harder, I feel like I play a lot better in conditions like that.”