AUSTIN, TX – MARCH 22: Jason Day of Australia addresses the media during a press conference after withdrawing due to an illness in the family from round one of the World Golf Championships-Dell Technologies Match Play at the Austin Country Club on March 22, 2017 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Matt Hazlett/Getty Images)

When Jason Day conceded his opening match of the WGC-Dell Match Play after only six holes, it was easy to speculate.

Day has a history of withdrawals from tournaments, as well as a history of mentioning every nagging injury or illness imaginable. That’s his reputation. So after he shook hands with opponent Pat Perez, headed for the scoring tent, and then made his way to the interview room, it was reasonable to speculate as to what sort of health problem he’d be citing as the underlying reason for his concession.

And it turned out it was, in fact, health-related, but not related to his own health.  A tearful Day revealed to the world that his mother has been undergoing treatment for lung cancer, treatment that includes surgery this coming Friday:

“Emotionally, it’s been wearing on me for a while. My mom says not to let it get to me, but it really has.

This has been very, very tough for me. I’m going to do my best and try and be there the best I can for her, because she is the reason that I’m playing golf today.”

That’s incredibly powerful stuff from Day, and hopefully his mother’s prognosis continues to improve. Day’s agent told ESPN’s Bob Harig that her outlook has gotten better since she moved to the United States:

His agent, Bud Martin, said Day’s mother was at The James Cancer Hospital at Ohio State. He said the prognosis is better than what she had gotten in Australia, and doctors now hope that the cancer can be managed.

“I kidded his mother a few days ago on the phone,” Martin said. “I said, ‘The news seems to be getting better. I want to make certain you are there during his Hall of Fame speech.’ She loves it. It’s important to her to support him.”

Day’s concession and withdrawal means his group at the tournament will be contested among the remaining three members, which include Perez, Lee Westwood, and Marc Leishman. They’re all guaranteed at least one point, and the unique situation could mean a likelihood of extra holes on Friday for at least two of them.

However, the more important story is Day’s WD. If it were any other golfer, there wouldn’t even be a hint of backlash, but as previously mentioned, Day has a history of withdrawing, either before or during the event. The unique nature of this WGC event also means he’ll still cash a check for the week as well, despite completing just six holes.

No one is doubting the sincerity or seriousness of the stiuation, but there will be some who ask if Day should have bothered competing at all, knowing as he did the potential for emotional stress throughout this week, in particular. His participation also took a spot from another player as well. And had he been three up, would he have continued playing?

That’s not an unreasonable question to ask, and doubtless that played into Day’s decision to speak to the media to clear things up.

In this case, though, it makes sense to give Day every benefit of the doubt. The first alternate for the tournament this week was Tony Finau, who would have been in line for the last spot had Day withdrawn pre-tournament. Finau tweeted words of support in the wake of the announcement, obviously hoping to preempt any controversy:

Plus, as Harig noted, this is the second time Day’s had to go through this with a parent:

“It’s really hard to even comprehend being on the golf course right now,” Jason Day said. “It’s been really hard to play golf lately. It’s been very, very emotional, as you can tell. I’ve already gone through it once with my dad. And I know how it feels.”

His father, Alvin, died of stomach cancer when Day was 12.

Complicating the situation further: this isn’t just a regular tournament stop. It’s a prestigious event, a tier directly below the majors, and Day was the defending champion. It really does seem like the most likely explanation is he thought he’d be able to gut it out, thought it was worth trying, and then found himself unable to perform or even function emotionally.

Hopefully Day’s mother has a successful procedure and continues onward to a speedy recovery. That’s something everyone can agree on.

About Jay Rigdon

Jay is a columnist at Awful Announcing. He is not a strong swimmer. He is probably talking to a dog in a silly voice at this very moment.