Jason Day has hit back at an ugly social media episode following his injury withdrawal from the Arnold Palmer Invitational in Florida.
The former World No.1 walked off the course midway through Thursday's opening round at Bay Hill before revealing he had an MRI days prior that indicated an annular disc tear in his back.
"I (then drove) to Palm Beach from Orlando and saw a spinal surgeon," Day said. "I had four (cortisone) injections around the spine and that alleviated a lot of the pain."
Day took his children to an Orlando theme park on the Friday, where a "creepy" fan photographed them without him realising, as they lined up for a ride, and posted it on Twitter.
"Heaven forbid I enjoy a day with my family; I was there half a day walking around," Day said on Tuesday at the Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass.
"(The doctor) wanted me to keep active and not lay around the next day."
The image went viral when a blogger shared it and incited criticism from fans by implying Day was exaggerating his injury.
It was also suggested Day was taking a spot in the field from the first alternate.
Day is seen as an easy target given his history of injuries.
He has withdrawn eight times in 237 PGA events, notably when he had to pull out in the second round of the 2012 Masters with a strained ankle.
RIGHT: Day won The Players Championship in 2016. PHOTO: Richard Heathcote/Getty Images.
The 12-time PGA Tour winner admits it's tempting to respond to criticism but rarely checks social media accounts.
"It's like when have you a fan yell at you on the course, you want to go over there and get into him but unfortunately it makes you look bad," Day said.
"That's the same with social media; that person who took a photo of me ... was kind of creepy.
"But when you're in the spotlight as an athlete ... you have to act in a professional manner."
A motivation for Day to withdraw last week was to get right for this week's Players Championship, regarded as golf's unofficial fifth major.
Day (2016) and Adam Scott (2004) are the only Australians in the field who have won at TPC Sawgrass.
Marc Leishman, Cameron Smith and Aaron Baddeley round out the Australian contingent at the 144-player tournament.
The event's US$12.5 million (AU$17.6 million) purse is the richest on the PGA Tour, with US$2.25 million for the winner.
- Evin Priest, Australian Associated Press