Tuesday

The Ultra-compelling, Underreported Story of Jason Day


It's been almost two years since I took the photos in this post. ~ It was in Cromwell, CT on a hot, muggy day in late June and the 2008 Travelers Championship was just getting underway.

We were only a couple of days past the most dramatic golf tournament in history and the vibe around the TPC River Highlands practice green was almost as listless and moody as New England's semi-tropical summer weather.

I'd never heard of Jason Day at that point. I had no idea where he was from or what he'd done to put him there with the likes of Justin Rose and Stewart Appleby... Vijay Singh and Sergio Garcia, but his hip, young, ethnically-ambiguous look certainly set him apart. I took quite a few photos of the little-known player, mainly because he was so photogenic.

At one point during that sultry day someone... a caddy, a coach, an anonymous player? ... approached the green with the news that Tiger was done for 2008. It had just been announced that he would miss the rest of the season, which included two more major championships and the Ryder Cup.

And that became the golf story. The whole golf story, because in those days Tiger Woods was golf and golf was Tiger Woods. My Jason Day photos were relegated to a big old Lacie storage disc and forgotten.

Actually I didn't forget. I found out more about Jason Day as 2008 became 2009... and both became history. I found out he was from Australia, but that his mother was originally from the Philippines ...and that his beginnings were quite modest. The story of his first club... a three wood retrieved by hid Dad from a garbage dump... is well documented, as is his extraordinary bond with mentor/coach/caddy Colin Swatton. And there's much more that sets Mr. Day apart, if you bother to look.

What surprised me however, was how little interest there was in his breakthrough win at the Byron Nelson. Outside of the "avid golf fan" circle... and even within it... there seemed to be little desire to celebrate this particular "young gun". The excitement was much less than when Rory Mcilroy won his first US championship... albiet in more spectacular style... at Quail Hollow a couple of months ago. ~ And though it was clearly impressive to see sixteen-year-old amateur, Jordan Spieth on the leaderboard, I would venture, that if... instead of Jason Day... Rickie Fowler or Ryo Ishikawa had taken the Byron Nelson trophy there would have been far more excitement... and lots more ink spilled. And I'm not quite sure why that is.