PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – It’s been a quick turnaround for Jason Day.
It was barely a week ago that the Aussie hobbled off the course at Bay Hill, withdrawing from the Arnold Palmer Invitational after completing just six holes. He subsequently shared that an MRI revealed an annular tear to the disc between the L4 and L5 vertebrae in his lower back, and his prognosis for this week’s Players Championship was very much in doubt.
But after a second-round 66, Day heads into the weekend at 8 under, very much in the mix for a title he captured three years ago.
According to Day, the key to his recovery was his decision to drive from Orlando to West Palm Beach last week for a set of four cortisone injections around his spine. While doctors told him the numbing effects might last only a few days, he shared that he’s still pain-free more than a week later.
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“Obviously I know how much it hurt last week, but then given the injections and the cortisone and all that stuff that went in there, I know that we have hit the spot because I can’t feel a thing, which is good,” Day said. “I don’t want to be out there playing golf and knowing that it hurts.”
Day won at TPC Sawgrass in 2016 when he was at the top of his game and ranked No. 1 in the world. Now down to 12th after his Bay Hill withdrawal, he vaulted up the Stadium Course standings with an eight-birdie effort in the second round that left him one behind Jim Furyk for the clubhouse lead after the morning wave concluded Friday.
Bouncing back in record time is nothing new for Day, who has on multiple occasions withdrawn from Wednesday pro-ams and still gone on to win the tournament that same week. Describing his exit in Orlando as somewhat of a precautionary measure, he’s now feeling healthy and proving that he can contend at this event in both March and May.
“I just needed to prep as well as I could, and I feel like taking that extra time off Friday through Sunday and then getting here Sunday night and practicing Monday through Wednesday, I feel like I gave myself enough prep,” Day said. “Unfortunately, it would have been nice to have been able to play Bay Hill, but I can’t force the issue because it is mid-season.”