Jason Day has revealed in that the darkest days of his long injury lay-off he wondered whether he would ever play competitive golf again.
Day returned from a nagging thumb injury at last weekend’s Quicken Loans National in Bethesda, Maryland, and while he missed the cut with a pair of 73s, at least saw that he had the potential to rebuild his game.
Doubts remain, however, and in the midst of the best part of three months on the sidelines, the Queenslander not only knew he had missed a chance at vying for the world No.1 spot, but had no real idea what the future held.
"You know, you’re sitting there going, when is my thumb going to get better," Day said. "Would this be a career-ending injury? I just didn’t know.
"Obviously when you’re sitting there by yourself on the couch watching the guys play golf on TV every Sunday, things like that go through your head, and you’re probably your own worst enemy at the end of the day. You’re playing things constantly through your head that are not obviously good things.
"There was some frustration mixed in with a lot of stress and just the injury, I learned more out of this injury than I have the past previous injuries that I’ve had."
A cortisone shot in the past eased the pain but Day is unconvinced the problem is permanently behind him.
"I don’t know. I tore my right wrist back in 2009 and had a cortisone shot in that, and saw the second guy that did the last shot in my thumb, Dr. Thomas Graham.
"I haven’t had to have another shot in my right wrist yet. It’s hard to tell what they are going to, it’s hard to tell the time period when it’s going to flare up again, really; is it going to be a year, is it going to be six months, is it going to be next week," he said.
"You just don’t know until it happens. It took me 20 years for this to finally flare up and happen the way it did. So hopefully if it comes in another 20 years, I’ll be happy."
One option is surgery but Day is reluctant to take that course with no real guarantee and another lengthy spell out of the game.
"I’ve got 30 more degrees extra extension in my left thumb and so any time I go to the golf club, it goes into hyperextension, so it’s kind of like just bending your finger back and you’re hyperextended over a long period of time.
"There’s a (position) where you have baseline and neutral, and then it just keeps going further and further back.
"So I could go in there and fuse it and make it not go past neutral and you know, take away that 30 degrees of extra extension, but I’d much rather go in there with a cortisone shot and try and fix it that way before jumping into surgery, because surgery may heal it, or may not, you know. You just don’t know."
Day is now resigned to the fact that he must re-start his charge for No.1 with the injury spectre lurking in the background.
"I’ve said it in the past, where I definitely felt I had a chance of getting to that No. 1 spot this year, just the way I was playing, the way it was trending," he said.
"I definitely felt I had a really good shot. If I didn’t get injured, I felt like I had a really good shot of getting to No. 1. Obviously getting back to No. 6 in the world is pretty special, as well. Yeah, I have to kind of slowly work my way back up there."
Former US Open champion Justin Rose was the surprise winner of the Quicken event when he shot up the leader board to force a play-off with American Shawn Stefani.
Rose calmly parred the first extra hole while Stefani collapsed with a double bogey six.
Marc Leishman had been showing challenging form all week but a final round 74 ended his hopes as he slid to a tie for eighth at one under par, three off the pace.
The next best Australians were Steven Bowditch (T21), Brady Watt (T24), Greg Chalmers (T30), Stuart Appleby (T46), Geoff Ogilvy (T53) and Oliver Goss, who had a share of 55 in only his second tournament as a pro but led with Leishman at the halfway mark.
Failing to make the cut along with Day were Victorians Aaron Baddeley and Robert Allenby.
By: Robert Grant