MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Jason Day will play the World Cup of Golf this week with the heaviest of hearts after eight of the Australian’s relatives were killed when Typhoon Haiyan pounded the Philippines earlier this month.
Battling to contain his emotions, Day, whose mother is of Filipino heritage, said a number of his relatives were still unaccounted for following the storm.
“I think most of you guys have seen what has been going on over there, it is very devastating and, you know, it is sad to see what has gone on,” Day told reporters at Royal Melbourne Golf Club on Wednesday.
“I know that there is aid over there now but just in certain parts it is hard to get communications to a lot of the parts over there in the Philippines.
“We are still trying to look for some more people, some more relatives, over there, so it is a tough situation right now and we really hope that, you know, everything kind of gets going in the direction that everyone wants it to go over there.”
Day lost his maternal grandmother, an uncle and a number of cousins, local media reported, but hopes his participation at Royal Melbourne can shine a spotlight on the Philippines as the country battles to recover from the disaster.
The Philippines are represented at the World Cup by Angelo Que and Tony Lascuna, who were both relieved to have not lost any family members in the storm which has killed nearly 4,000 people and displaced four million, according to official estimates.
“I know that there are guys from the Philippines here and they have got a heavy heart right now for their people and... being half-Australian and half-Filipino... after something like that happened you kind of tend to bend towards that way,” Day said when asked if he felt he was also playing for his mother’s country this week.
Day was understandably relieved to focus on questions about the tournament and left reporters roaring with laughter when he put his grief to one side to joke about his relationship with compatriot and world number two Adam Scott.
Day and U.S. Masters champion Scott will bid to win the team component of the re-jigged biennial tournament.
Scott has been in top form, winning the Australian Masters at the same golf course on Sunday and the Australian PGA Championship at the Gold Coast the week before.
“I am definitely looking forward to playing with Scotty, he is playing pretty hot right now so I have definitely got a good partner that is probably going to carry me along the way,” Day said, adding that the pair rarely catch up outside competition.
“He lives a little bit away from me, we are in different spots, but every now and then we see each other at tournaments and stuff, we hang out a little bit.
“But, ‘Your Honour’, me with my little boy and my wife and Scotty with, you know, all the women that are chasing him, it is just too much - it is just too much,” Day added, grinning at a grimacing Scott sitting next to him.
“So I just let him be what he wants to be and I will just go and do my thing.”
Editing by John O'Brien