ORLANDO, Fla. – Former Arnold Palmer Invitational champion Jason Day withdrew on the seventh hole of his opening round Thursday at Bay Hill, citing a back injury that may put his status for next week’s Players Championship in jeopardy.
Day won at Bay Hill three years ago, and entered with top-5 finishes in each of his last two starts. But he walked off the course after hitting his approach to No. 16 into the water, completing six holes in 2 over before calling it quits. The Aussie explained that he spent much of last week practicing at TPC Sawgrass and was taking anti-inflammatory medication to deal with some lingering soreness in his lower back, but the pain escalated over the weekend.
“I woke up Sunday and I couldn’t really walk,” Day said. “Couldn’t sit in a car, it was really difficult. So I ended up coming down here and seeing a physio and trying to do as much work as I possibly could to get ready for this week. It just wasn’t going to work out.”
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According to Day, an MRI Monday in Orlando revealed an annular tear in the disc between his L4 and L5 vertebrae along with additional “facet problems.” Day limited his practice early in the week at Bay Hill but had hoped the injury would improve once he began the opening round.
“I couldn’t play at like 100 percent today. I just wanted to see if I got out here and it may have loosened up,” Day said. “But unfortunately it didn’t.”
Despite the diagnosis, Day remains optimistic that he’ll be able to tee it up next week at The Players, another event he won back in 2016.
“It’s too early to tell right now,” he said. “I think it’s just rest, to be honest, and hopefully I’ll be ready by next week.”