Augusta, Georgia: Jason Day walked the fairways like an old man. He picked the ball out of the hole like an even older man.
He took a back injury into the Masters, and aggravated it before his round when he bent down to give his daughter Lucy a kiss.
Then, after a bunker shot adjacent to the first green, he struggled to walk out.
He called for the trainer after his tee shot on the second and had his back worked on.
The problem is, theres only so much a massage on the run can do to help a tear around the L4 and L5 vertebrae.
He ambled down the fairway, then stood over his second shot to the long par five and flushed a three wood 255m onto the green. Two putts for a birdie.
This is the Masters and Day was not about to quit.
For the rest of the round it was a battle.
He walked every fairway gingerly, well behind playing partners Bryson DeChambeau and Dustin Johnson.
He blinked his eyes repeatedly and stared into space as he stood waiting to play on a slow day of five hour, 20 minute rounds.
By the start of the back nine, it was time for another massage.
But he stood on every tee, gritted his teeth and belted his drives past Johnson, a noted big-hitter.
He stood over his irons and played them like nothing was wrong. Immediately after each shot, it was clear something was horribly wrong.
In an effort as brave as any ever seen at Augusta, he shot a 70 to be four off the lead held equally by playing partner DeChambeau and major tournament ice-man Brooks Koepka.
Day left the course immediately for treatment, declining all requests for interviews, even from host broadcaster CBS.
Koepkas name with minus six beside it would have struck fear through the whole field. Hes won three of the last seven majors – the 2017 and 2018 US Opens and the 2018 US PGA.
He cruises around a golf course, never flustered, never excited.
Despite the three majors, its a demeanour which has left him largely unrecognised among the sporting public. But not the players on tour.
Australians Adam Scott, Cam Smith and Marc Leishman played through the toughest part of the day when scoring was a struggle.
Scott shot a 69 thanks to birdies at the 15th, 17th and 18th. He hung tough before finding his groove, something hes found here often in the past, most notably when he triumphed in 2019.
He has no plan to play conservatively.
"Keep the foot on the gas," he said.
"My ball striking was good today and Read More – Source