By Jason Cruz
Northwest Asian Weekly
Australian-born golfer Jason Day led from start to finish to win his first PGA Championship of his career this past Sunday at Whistling Straits in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. The 27-year old Day, who is part Filipino, was the first player to finish 20 under par in a major event.
Notably, Day’s mom, Dening was at work while Day won his first PGA title. She followed the tournament from work relying on the PGA tour web site and twitter to get updates of her son’s progress. Dening Day, is Filipino. Day’s father was Irish and Australian but passed away of stomach cancer when Jason was just 11 years old. It was Day’s father that introduced him to golf when he was 6 years old as his father found an old golf club in the trash. Day fell into trouble after his father’s passing as he battled alcohol abuse and could have wasted his talents. But Dening did what was best to keep him out of trouble despite not having a lot of money. Dening would boil water for hot showers in the winter and would cut grass by hand using a knife because they could not buy a lawnmower.
Upon his win, Jason reflected on his mother’s struggles to raise him. He told reporters that she took out a second mortgage on their house and borrowed money from family to send Jason to an international boarding school known for grooming top athletes. It was at the boarding school where Jason met a golf mentor, Colin Swatton, who became his coach and remains with him as his caddie. He told the BBC of Swatton, “He’s taken me from a kid that was getting into fights at home and getting drunk at 12 and not heading in the right direction to a major champion.”
He defeated the world’s number 1 player, Jordan Spieth by three shots.
The win makes up for a summer of disappointment for Day as he was in the lead after leading the British Open going into the last day of the tournament before falling one shot out of a playoff for the title. In June, at the U.S. Open at Chambers Bay, Day suffered from vertigo symptoms and fell during the second round of play. Day was able to finish his round and shared the lead going into another Sunday final. However, Day was unable to keep up with other players losing out to eventual winner Jordan Spieth.
This time, Day was able to maintain a Sunday lead to win his first title at Whistling Straits.
Day’s mother is from Leyte province in the Philippines. Last November, eight of Day’s family members, including his grandmother and uncle, died in Typhoon Yolanda when it hit their province. Day sent his condolences and had his foundation send much-needed supplies to the region.
Although golf is not a popular sport in the Philippines compared to basketball or even boxing, the win evoked pride from the country. “His victory was all the more enhanced by recording the lowest score in a major golf championship,” stated Filipino Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma. “Truly the Philippines is proud of Jason Day, a champion.”
As much anxiety as Jason experienced on the course, Dening experienced the same while waiting for the internet to update her son’s progress. “It takes a long time before it gets updated,” Dening told Australian Broadcasting Corp. radio after his win. “It gets a little bit anxious.”
After the win, Dening was able to breathe a sigh of relief as all of the sacrifice both made paid off with Jason’s first major victory. “I was so excited, I was so proud of him,” said Dening. “It has been a long time coming for him. It’s a culmination of all his hard work.”
Certainly, the same could be said for Dening. (end)
Jason Cruz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.