Understandably, Jason Day’s comments around having to potentially go through qualifying for the US Open have drawn the ire of golf fans and pundits alike.
That a player would pass up an opportunity to play a major championship, albeit via a long shot, is a surprise.
Particularly one who was at one time ranked as the best male golfer on the planet, with a significant focus on the four biggest events in the game.
Day’s decision to potentially skip the US PGA for the impending birth of his fourth child has rightfully earned no backlash. Any parent, or person really, would understand that no golf tournament is as important as being there when a child is born.
However, it was the following quote and revelation that Day had a prior engagement with one of his primary sponsors – NetJets – when qualifying would occur that attracted all the attention.
“I just feel like if I do it that way that in my mind my mindset will say, 'OK, it's fine, you can just go qualify next year' and I'll get used to qualifying instead of going, 'No, I'm not going to qualify',” Day said.
Let me be clear, I am among those who have been critical of Day in the past for a number of reasons, chiefly his appearances or lack thereof, in his home country to play since rising to the top of the game.
But in this case, I find the public haranguing of Day to be off the mark.
"Let’s just hope that when his career is said and done he remains comfortable with his choice.Even if his regular detractors aren’t."
Yes, the US Open is being played at Torrey Pines, where Day is a two-time winner of the yearly PGA Tour event and he is likely giving up one of his best chances to potentially ever win the major title that doesn’t generally fit his game.
And of course, we as a golfing public have an expectation that players will do everything in their power to play and win every major they get the chance at throughout the course of their career.
However, Day is not in the same situation Adam Scott found himself in a couple of years ago when similarly faced with missing his first major start in a long time and heading to qualifying for the US Open.
The 2015 US PGA Champion is currently struggling with his game as he attempts to learn a new golf swing under the guidance of Chris Como while also coming to terms with new equipment after parting ways with TaylorMade at the end of 2020.
Day too has suffered hugely with his niggling back for much of the past 10 years, and the prospect of adding more tournament golf to his schedule is likely not in keeping with plans made months ago to keep him healthy.
Day is also seven years Scott’s junior, meaning if he plays on well into his 40s he has plenty more golf and major championships than his fellow former World No.1 did at the time he went through a similar situation.
The 12-time PGA Tour winner even alluded, very honestly I might add, as to why qualifying is not top of his priority list while also outlining that making the field at Torrey Pines via his play and a world ranking jump remains a priority.
“No, majors are very, very important,” he said when asked if they were less important to him than before. “Right now they're not important just because I, you know – they're more important when I feel like my game is in a position to win. Right now I'm like feel like my game is in position to win if I get lucky.”
Day also mentioned that extra time at home with the new baby and the rest of his growing brood would be a major bonus for someone who spends so much time on the road.
Jason Day has said and done things in the past that have rightfully drawn criticism.
But for mine, this occasion where he has displayed brutal honesty about the state of his game and his expectations of himself as a golfer are not deserving of the same.
It is impossible to know every reason behind his decision making with this, and despite the fact that I would personally love to see Jason tee it up at Torrey Pines and in contention on Sunday, this feels like a situation unique to himself and one where he has made a decision and will be sticking with it.
Let’s just hope that when his career is said and done he remains comfortable with his choice.
Even if his regular detractors aren’t.