AUSTIN, Tex. — The last time Jason Day had wept publicly at a golf tournament was on the 18th green at Whistling Straits after securing his first major victory in his 20th attempt. He later explained that his tears at the 2015 P.G.A. Championship were brought on by thoughts of the sacrifices that his mother, Dening, and his two sisters had made so that he could reach the zenith of his sport.
On Wednesday, thoughts of his mother again caused Day to cry, but this time they were tears of anguish. Day, the defending champion of the World Golf Championships match-play event at Austin Country Club, abruptly conceded his first-round match to Pat Perez after losing three of the first six holes. Then Day held an emotional news conference to explain why: He said he was having difficulty concentrating on golf because his mother had been found to have lung cancer and was scheduled to have exploratory surgery Friday in Columbus, Ohio, where Day lives with his wife, Ellie, and their two small children.
“It’s hard to talk right now,” Day said as he faced the news media. He paused to gather his composure and spoke of diagnosis of terminal cancer his mother had received and the initial prognosis that she might have only 12 months to live.
“It’s been really hard to play golf lately,” he added.
Day’s father, Alvyn, died of stomach cancer when Day was 12. Day brought Dening, 59, who lives outside Brisbane, to the United States this year to have further tests after her cancer was initially diagnosed in Australia.