Jason Day says fans were yelling ‘choke’ at him during PGA Championship
Jordan Spieth has emerged as arguably the most popular golfer in the world this year with his two major victories and dominating performances over the last five-plus months. So when Jason Day was paired with Spieth for the final round of the PGA Championship on Sunday, he knew plenty of fans would be rooting against him.
What Day may not have expected, however, is how animated some of those fans would be.
After the 27-year-old captured the first major win of his career, he revealed that fans were yelling “choke!” at him down the stretch.
“(Spieth) was a heavy favorite. I could hear the fans… some people were out there going ‘choke, choke, choke’ to me. Some people weren’t very friendly,” Day said, per Phil Lutton of The Sydney Morning Herald. “That’s something that builds character, that builds mental toughness. To play alongside him (Spieth) and for him to tell me ‘there’s nothing I could do today’, I played good golf.”
Day finished the PGA Championship at 20-under, which is the lowest 72-hole score ever recorded in a major tournament. Prior to winning at Whistling Straits, he had knocked on the door several times with two top-three finishes at the Masters, a pair of runner-up finishes at the U.S. Open and a fourth-place finish at the British Open last month. Day has also dealt with some scary bouts of vertigo, including one that caused him to collapse to the ground during the U.S. Open this year.
We know fans can be pretty cold when rooting for their favorite players, but many of them probably didn’t know Day’s story. He lost his father to cancer at age 12. Day’s mother made infinite sacrifices to send him to boarding school and make sure he got the golf instruction he needed.
“I’ve changed so much from where I was and what I saw as a kid to where I am now,” Day said. “I mean, it’s just an amazing, amazing feeling, an amazing story to really be able to tell people that, give them insight on what I felt and the emotions that I’ve gone through growing up as a kid in Australia and losing my dad very young.
“But to be honest, I have no idea where I would be, what I would be doing, probably wouldn’t be doing much of anything. And I wouldn’t be challenging myself and trying to better myself if I didn’t have the people that I have in my life today.”
To Spieth’s credit, the 22-year-old showed his support for Day throughout Sunday’s round, even giving him a thumbs up on the 17th green when Day lagged a crucial long putt right next to the hole. Day’s biggest fan — his lovely wife Ellie — was also there with the couple’s son Dash to share in a celebration that felt long overdue.
Day didn’t choke. The fans who were rooting for him to fail didn’t get what they wanted, and one of golf’s good guys got the monkey off his back as a result.
Photo: Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY Sports