Jason Day Shares Some Doggoned Good Memories on Return to Where it All Began

Made first TOUR start at 2006 John Deere Classic as 19-year-old

As “welcome to the PGA TOUR” moments go, Jason Day’s was a keeper.

In July of 2006, Day was all of 19 and making his TOUR debut at the John Deere Classic. He was accorded free lodging — albeit at a less-than-five-star Super 8 — and was rewarded with memories money can’t buy.

Back at TPC Deere Run for the first time since 2011, the now 36-year-old Australian had a good laugh in a Wednesday morning visit to the media center alongside longtime TOUR media official Doug Milne, who happened to be staying a few doors down from Day in 2006.

“I think back then your AC unit fell out the wall, so you could crawl from your room to the outside, which was even funnier,” Day recalled.

Added Milne: “I had a dog come into my room. I literally woke up with a dog on my bed.”

The dog days of that long-ago summer are long gone, for Day at least.

At the place where it all so auspiciously began, Day is making his 351st TOUR start as a father of five with more than $60 million in career earnings to his credit and 13 TOUR victories on his resume.

The win total includes the 2015 PGA Championship and the 2023 CJ CUP Byron Nelson, the latter of which cemented his return to form after back issues nearly derailed a career that saw him ascend to the top of the world rankings in 2015.

Currently 28th in the FedExCup standings and seeking his first top-10 finish since February, Day is hoping to find a late-season spark that will carry him into The Open Championship two weeks hence at Royal Troon, his Olympics debut at month’s end, and the FedExCup Playoffs in August. He is eager to experience the Olympics in Paris after taking a pass on representing Australia when golf returned to the Games in 2016 for the first time since 1904.

“Looking back on it, I probably should have gone to Rio and played,” he said. “I think it's something bigger than yourself. You're actually representing your country and your sport. As an Australian, the Olympics is a big thing because we’re a big sporting nation. To get another turn at it, I feel very grateful.”

Day also is grateful to return to the tournament that gave him his first start. “I tried to come back a couple years ago and my back didn't allow me to. It's nice to be back,” he said. “I've always enjoyed the people and the golf tournament.”

Less so, perhaps, those first accommodations. This year, he’s staying in his RV just south of the course with his wife, Ellie, and their five children.

“You got room?” inquired Milne, who’s still at the Super 8.

“I do, but you're going to be sleeping next to my kids,” Day replied.

Beats sleeping next to a stray dog.