Jason Day Moves Forward
Royal Melbourne hosted the World Cup two weeks ago, and for the first time in a while, a native son won it, enabling the Australian contingent to win the team aspect of the tournament as well. Jason Day, who last won at the Byron Nelson on the PGA Tour in 2010, outlasted Dane Thomas Bjorn to take home a sizeable check and perhaps even more sizeable a feeling of satisfaction.
Winning the Nelson made Day, born in Beaudesert, Queensland of parents from Australia and the Philippines, the youngest Australian to win a PGA event after a rugged effort to climb into the pro ranks and stay there. At other times, in big venues, he’s come so close, finishing as runner-up in the Masters and U.S. Open in 2011.
There has been personal loss in Day’s life. His father died when Jason was twelve, but some of the worst came on November 9 of this year, a day in which Day lost eight of his relatives, including his grandmother, in Typhoon Haiyan, which wreaked an unspeakable degree of destruction upon areas of the Philippines.
Day’s mother and sister were present in Melbourne to attend and visually support Jason in his quest to win the World Cup. To see family in the audience, gallery, whatever, can be very uplifting, but their presence might have been more important than ever on this particular week. Day married his wife Ellie in 2009, and has a son, Dash, born in 2012, so there’s a lot of life around him, but his recent loss was so abrupt, and of such magnitude that one must wonder how difficult it is to sustain a profession requiring so much finesse and subtlety.
To play a game for one’s living that requires such mental skill must put a player in a mentally awkward spot – my head really needs to concentrate on what I’m doing, but my heart is fixated on what has happened and what I’ve lost. Of course, that’s why we practice, to form habit that can go on automatic if it needs to. Perhaps we overthink a good deal of the time anyway, but the raw energy required to keep it up wouldn’t be there in many people, I feel sure.
It is true, I suppose, that at some point we have to get up and live again, move forward with a new mosaic of gain and loss in our past, including sweet and bitter memories. However, contrary to the frequent advice of others, we don’t ever need to “get over it” or “put it out of our minds.” Such advice is grotesque, a denial of humanity itself, and few things make me angrier than hearing it. The last thing we want to do is forget – memory is life.
Gardner Dickinson once joked that life is not really like golf – that golf is more complicated than that. In a sense, he’s close to a nugget of truth there. I believe that golf, like every other way in which we choose to express ourselves, IS life. That would sound silly if golf was set up as the object, but the game is an expression of it that involves family, a facilitating activity for our chosen form of contentment – and who cares how others might demean it as a way to spend time? You tend to get it or you don’t.
To Jason Day, both congratulations for a job well done, and condolences for loved ones lost are due. He experienced the joys and sorrows of life particularly close together this November, got up and lived, without getting over or forgetting anything – and here’s to his great year continuing when we pick this up again in the spring, the season of life.