Inspired by son Dash’s desire for the game, Jason Day chasing first win in over three years

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DETROIT – Jason Day wasn’t walking around the grounds of Detroit Golf Club handing out cigars, but he smiled the smile of a proud Papa. He and wife Ellie welcomed their fourth child, a son named Oz, three weeks ago.

It’s a name that pays homage to his Australian roots and also has additional meaning. After all, when your first two boys are named Dash and Arrow, you can’t just name your third son John.

“We couldn’t find a boy’s name. We had a girl’s name,” said Day, who didn’t find out the sex of the baby ahead of time. “It means strength.”

It’s Day’s oldest son, Dash, that has the 33-year-old 12-time PGA Tour winner hanging out at The Barn of late. That’s what he calls his practice facility at home in Galena, Ohio, where he owns just over 11 acres and has three greens to practice from 150 yards-and-in as well as a short-game studio and indoor simulator. Dash, who turns 9 this month, recently signed up to play in PGA Junior League, golf’s version of Little League baseball, and has caught the golf bug.

“I never really wanted to push Dash into golf. I wanted to let him kind of discover it himself,” said Day, who has tried to help him with his swing. “I’m like, ‘Dude, at one time I was the best in the world, listen to me,’ but the way kids work, he’s like, ‘You’re my dad, who cares.’ ”

Jason Day, far right, and his team Kenwal Steel celebrate winning the AREA 313 Celebrity Scramble at the Detroit Golf Club in Detroit, Tuesday, June 29, 2021.

Day, who recorded just his second top 10 this year at last week’s Travelers Championship, is attempting to rediscover his game, too, and got off to a flying start at the Rocket Mortgage Classic, posting 5-under 67 to trail newly-minted pro Davis Thompson (63) among the early finishers of the rain-delayed opening round. Day has plummeted to No. 66 in the world entering this week and failed to qualify for the U.S. Open last month, the first time he missed a major since the 2012 British Open. He called it “painful to watch,” all the more so since he hasn’t won a tournament in more than three years. Asked if it felt like a long time since he’s been in the winner’s circle, the former World No. 1 said, “Oh, yeah, it feels like a lifetime ago.”

Day has battled a brittle back, which tightened up on him last week in Hartford, and a loss of confidence, especially with his putter. During his heyday, putting, he said, was the sun in his universe. He recently returned to using the TaylorMade Ghost Spider model that he used in his glory days – except painted white rather than the black one he used to win the 2015 PGA Championship or the red version that he used when he reached No. 1 – and on Thursday, he sank a pair of 36-foot birdie putts at Nos. 2 and 5 and another 20-footer for birdie at 12; on the day, he made putts totaling 120 feet, 5 inches.

“I’m starting to see the ball go in before I hit the putt and when I was putting my best, that’s what I started to see,” he said.

Day also reunited with performance coach Jason Goldsmith, who worked with him when he reached No. 1.

“I was sick of playing poor golf and I knew that he could give me some direction,” he said.

After feeling as if he was lost in golf’s wilderness, Day has new purpose and shot 62 last Friday to hold the 36-hole lead before settling for a T-10 finish.

“I feel a lot more free upstairs,” he said.

Structure to his practice, the return of an old coach and a faithful putter have Day believing that he’s on the verge of getting back to his old winning ways. But the biggest reason for his resurgent play may be Dash.

“For him to be able to play golf has inspired me to kind of work a little bit harder to stay out here a lot longer because if I can do that, hopefully one day we can play in the Father-Son,” Day said of the team tournament where Charlie Woods shined alongside Tiger in December. “That would be awesome. There’s a lot of benefits from me and him playing golf.”

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