MIAMI (AFP) – Australian star Jason Day made a tearful withdrawal Wednesday from the World Golf Championship-Dell Match Play to be with his cancer-stricken mother while Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth lost their openers.
Day, the defending champion, broke down in tears in Austin, Texas, after withdrawing from his first round match against American Pat Perez after only six holes at Austin Country Club before later revealing the personal anguish that led to his concession.
World number two McIlroy, seeking his second title in three seasons, lost 2 and 1 to Denmark’s Soren Kjeldsen and Japan’s Hideto Tanihara downed fifth-seeded Speith 4 and 2, while top-ranked Dustin Johnson downed fellow American Webb Simpson 5 and 3.
The defeats do not end the title hopes for McIlroy and Spieth thanks to group-stage play conducted through Friday instead of the typical match-play bracket format.
Day, 29, said he was pulling out to be with his Philippine-born mother, Dening Day, who is facing surgery on Friday to remove a cancerous growth from her lungs.
“She’s going in for surgery this Friday and it’s really hard to even comprehend being on the golf course right now because of what she’s going through,’’ Day told reporters through tears.
“It’s been really hard to play golf. It has been very, very emotional as you can tell,’’ added Day, whose father Alvin died of cancer in 1999 when the golfer was 11.
“I’ve already gone through it once with my dad and I know how it feels. It’s hard enough to see another one go through it as well. As of now I’m going to try and be with my mum for this surgery and make sure everything goes right with her.
“It’s been a very, very hard time for me to be even thinking about playing golf. It’s been weighing on me emotionally for a while.
“And although my mum says not to let it get to me, it clearly has. I just need some time away with her to make sure everything goes well because she’s the reason that I’m playing golf today. Family’s first.’’
Day was in Group 3 with fellow Aussie Marc Leishman, who opened with a 3-and-2 win over England’s Lee Westwood.