Behind every good man there’s a great woman.
Jason Day can vouch for that.
If it hadn’t been for some straight talking from his wife, Ellie, there’s a chance he might not appeared for the second round of The Masters.
Instead, he’s right in the mix for the Green Jacket going into this weekend.
Day, 31, was in obvious pain throughout the first round after injuring his troublesome back when he bent down to give his daughter a kiss prior to teeing off.
After receiving treatment on it on the second hole, he rallied to post a two-under 70 to sit just four shots off the lead posted by Brooks Koepka and Bryson DeChambeau. However, there were serious doubts overnight that he might not appear for his second round tee time.
Speaking after posting a five-under 67 to take a share of the 36-hole lead at Augusta National, the Aussie revealed those doubts were real and persisted until this morning.
That’s when Ellie stepped in and stepped up.
“This morning I woke up, and I was disappointed because I thought my back was going to be a lot better than what it was,” said Day. “I was kind of moping a little bit in the bath, and she's like, ‘It's the Masters, you need to suck it up.’
"She's birthed three children and I haven't, so she's a lot stronger as a person than me with regards to pain. I just hit a little white golf ball around a course. I've got to listen to that. She's in my corner.”
Day has been plagued by back issues since his early teens. Just last month, he received a series of epidurals after being forced to withdraw from the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
“Sometimes I wake up and I feel like I'm 50, sometimes I wake up and I feel like I'm 70, and sometimes I wake up and feel like I'm 18 again,” he added. “It just comes and goes.
“I'm trying to do everything I possibly can to make sure that I have longevity in my game, and that's something that I need to focus more on now than ever before, just strictly because I have to work harder than most guys, especially with a back injury.”
‘Everything he possibly can’ includes a specific set of physio-prescribed ‘protocols’ that includes blowing into balloons to try to realign his ribcage.
Keeping his back in peak condition is one thing. Keeping his mental strength in check, a whole other.
“Emotions go up‑and‑down,” he added. “Sometimes, you can be down and depressed because it feels like your world is kind of crumbling around you, and you don't know if you can come back from injuries, whether it's thumb injury or back injury or wrist or knees.
“As an athlete, when you have an injury, it feels like your world is ending and you've got nothing else. You've put everything that you possibly can in your life into one thing, and it can be very depressing and emotional at times.”
As innocuous injuries go, throwing out your back bending down to kiss your daughter definitely registers high on the obscure-o-meter.
Even so, it was enough to leave Day seriously contemplating pulling out.
“I said to my caddie, Luke, I said, ‘If this stays the same pain as it was on the putting green, I'll probably end up withdrawing.’
“I didn't know how to rate it because if ten is the worst it's going to be, that's obviously a withdrawal, and that was at Bay Hill this year. It would be probably right around a five.”
All of which makes it remarkable that Day finds himself in a five-way tie for the lead after a scintillating second day at Augusta. That surprises him as much as anybody.
“Yeah, I am a little bit surprised,” he admitted. “Especially after what happened yesterday and thinking that if it doesn't really work out that well with the back, then I’m going home early.
“But I feel a lot more optimistic now today than I did yesterday and bar some outrageous thing that could possibly happen, I'm hoping that I feel this good going into Saturday and Sunday.”
As for Day’s kids, they’re now staying at a safe distance.
“They didn't even come on the putting green today.”