Date: September 01, 2017
Author: Martin Blake

Comment: Day craves the Stonehaven

The Emirates Australian Open celebrated its centenary at The Australian in Sydney in November, 2004, and the tournament was notable for more than the fact that Peter Lonard employed his metronomic swing to take the title.

That is because Australia had its first close look at a phenomenon in the form of 17-year-old Jason Day.

Day finished tied-22nd that week, easily the leading amateur, having taken up an invitation to play in the same year that he had won the World Junior Championship at Torrey Pines in California.

Everyone just knew that he was the business. That week at The Australian only confirmed it.

Fast-forward 13 years and Queenslander Day is a superstar of the world game, a winner of a major championship and having reached No.1 in the world.

But he still has not lifted the Stonehaven Cup, the prize for winning the storied Australian Open, a tournament that boasts Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, Arnold Palmer, Peter Thomson, Tom Watson, Greg Norman, David Graham, Bobby Locke and Gene Sarazen among the brethren of its winners.

Day's failure to win his own national championship thus far is on his radar, make no mistake, as he commits to returning to The Australian for this year's Open from 23 November. All of Australia's top players have a burning desire to grab the Stonehaven and Day is no different, notwithstanding a few absences in recent years.

People are sometimes cynical about his reasoning, but Day's withdrawals after committing to the tournament in the past three years have been sincere. In both 2014 and 2016 he was suffering dreadfully from the back injury that is still an issue for him today and he was advised by medicos not to take the trip on. In fact, in 2016 he withdrew from all golf for the latter part of the year.

In 2015, he had family matters on his mind, specifically the birth of his daughter Lucy, back at home in Ohio. Day wanted to play but he had no chance of getting away from the United States; his wife Ellie was due at almost the exact week of the Open, and in fact the baby arrived only a week before Day would have needed to board a plane to Sydney.

Day, currently playing in the PGA Tour playoffs in Boston, has contended in two Australian Opens as a professional – the 2011 version won by Greg Chalmers at The Lakes where he ended up fourth, and the sensational 2013 Open at Royal Sydney, when Rory McIlroy birdied the 72nd hole to beat Adam Scott by a shot, leaving Day sixth.

As much as Day desperately wants to win a Masters green jacket, the Australian Open is a real missing link in his golfing chain.

November is about correcting that anomaly.


2004    T22*
2005    51*
2011    T4
2013    6

* amateur