TEAR­FUL DAY WITH­DRAWS

Aus­tralian wants to spend time with can­cer-stricken mother

New Straits Times - - Sport -

MI­AMI 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 No 2 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 today in­stead of the typ­i­cal match-play bracket for­mat.

Day, 29, said he was pulling out to be with his mother, Den­ing Day, who is fac­ing surgery today 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.

Day was in Group Three with fel­low Aussie Marc Leish­man, who opened with a 3-and-2 vic­tory over Eng­land’s Lee West­wood.

This marks the third year of group play to open the event, en­sur­ing top names no longer risk be­ing ousted on day one. Knock­out play opens with 16 group winners to­mor­row.

McIl­roy was 1 up with five holes re­main­ing af­ter three birdies in a row to win holes but Kjeld­sen made four con­sec­u­tive birdies to seize the vic­tory, his last three ap­proaches land­ing within four feet of the cup.

“I played well,” McIl­roy said. “If I had played anyone else, I might have won. Soren played great. I think I have to give him credit. He played re­ally, re­ally well from the first hole.”

Tani­hara, mak­ing his de­but in the event, sank a 15-foot birdie putt to go 1-up af­ter seven holes, then won the 10th by sink­ing his ap­proach and took three of the next holes to seal the vic­tory over Spi­eth, who couldn’t man­age a birdie past the first hole.

“I was look­ing forward to play­ing,” Tani­hara said.

“I knew if I brought my ‘A’ game, I could prob­a­bly com­pete against him.

“I wanted to see how a top player would play and I was just look­ing forward the whole day.

“Try­ing to win the whole tour­na­ment, you have to go through tough guys. So just happy to get this win.” AFP

AFP PIC

New Zealand’s Tim Southee is in­jured.

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