Jason Day is an Australian professional golfer and PGA Tour member. He has been ranked the number one golfer in the world, has won multiple PGA Tour titles, and is one of the most popular golfers in the sport today. Day’s story isn’t all smiles, however, as he has battled vertigo, a sensation that causes extreme loss of balance.
Dizziness is actually the second most common complaint heard across U.S. doctor’s offices, and will occur in 70% of the nation’s population at some point in their lives. Very rarely does a dizziness spell gain international attention, though, unless it involves one of the best athletes in the world.
During the second round of the 2015 U.S. Open, a time when Day was ranked the number one golfer in the world, Day collapsed on his 18th hole, the 9th hole on the course. Millions of people watched Day struggle to get back up, thinking he tripped or injured his ankle, but replays revealed he became overwhelmed with intense dizziness feelings and collapsed to the ground as a result.
It was later revealed that Day was diagnosed with vertigo a month prior.
“I learned a lot about how far I could really push myself, not only physically but mentally as well,” Day said. “The vertigo is a difficult thing, it just comes and goes whenever it pleases. I wasn’t expecting it.”
Day’s trouble with vertigo raised plenty of doubt about whether he would be able to continue golfing at the top of his game for the rest of his career, let alone finish the weekend in the top 10. But Day overcame those struggles back then, placing ninth in the U.S. Open, and continues to fight those struggles to this day.
“I got burned out being number 1,” said Day, following his early May victory at the Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow. “It’s easy to get burned out in a position that you’re in the spotlight. It can be demanding at times. You’ve got to give time to people and sometimes you don’t get a lot of time to yourself.”
Entering last week’s tournament, Day was ranked 14th in the Official World Golf Rankings, his lowest ranking since 2013. He shot a 69, beating both Nick Watney and Aaron Wise by two strokes.
Day’s ability to overcome adversity on and off the golf course — including his health issues, his mother being diagnosed with breast cancer, and his wife having a miscarriage on Thanksgiving day — has garnered the respect of fellow PGA Tour members and fans around the world.
“When he’s healthy and he’s on, there’s no weakness in his game that I can see,” said Rory McIlroy. “He gets focused and dialed in and it feels like he’s not going to miss a shot.”
At the young age of 30 years old, Day continues to shoot regulation golf balls well, which must weigh less than 1.62 ounces, and even credit’s other superstar athletes like LeBron James for his ability to battle adversity and remain clutch on the golf course.
“To be clutch like that, it’s a lot of heart,” he added. “It was probably a good thing that I watched LeBron’s buzzer-beater this morning instead of last night. That was awesome to watch and hopefully I could pass that along in my game today.”