AUGUSTA, Ga. (Reuters) - As he lay on his back wincing in agony at the second tee on Thursday, it was difficult to imagine that Jason Day would muster much of a challenge at Augusta National this week.
Yet for Day, who claimed a share of the second-round clubhouse lead at the Masters on Friday, coping with debilitating pain has become part of the job.
“Sometimes you can be down and depressed because it feels like your world is kind of crumbling around you, and you don’t know if you can come back from injuries,” said Day, who injured his back bending over to kiss his daughter on the practice range on Thursday.
“It feels like your world is ending and you’ve got nothing else.
“It can be very depressing and emotional at times.”
Those are the kind of demons that Day has battled for years.
The former world number one clinched the Players Championship in 2016, but was forced to withdraw from consecutive tournaments later that year when his all-too-familiar back pain flared.
A month ago he withdrew from the Arnold Palmer Invitational after less than seven holes.
Pain management has become part of a daily routine, said Day, in a sport that has caused him physical ailments since he was 13 years old.
From injections and stretches to chiropractic work, the 31-year-old Australian has even tried a balloon-blowing exercise designed to realign his ribcage.
“Trying to get your ribcage down and blow into a balloon, this is very new to me, actually,” said Day. “It sounds very insane when you’re sitting there.”
And surgery? “No. No. No, no, no, no,” said Day. “I want to stay away from that as much as possible.”
Day, who won the 2015 PGA Championship just two months after collapsing from vertigo on the course at the U.S. Open, said he is appreciating his abilities as they are today.
“Sometimes it takes me 10 minutes to get out of bed, some years, just to roll out of bed and get up and move around,” said Day. “I’m walking around. But some years it’s different.”
The world number 14 continues his bid for a first Green Jacket on Saturday, from an enviable seven-under-par position.
“All these golfers out here have some sort of pain, whether it’s knees or feet or wrists or back. Everyone’s playing through a little bit of pain,” said Day. “Sometimes it’s worse than others.”
Reporting By Amy Tennery; Editing by Toby Davis