Look away now, Australia!
Jason Day announced that trouble with his back has caused him to withdraw from competing on the International team at Royal Melbourne in two weeks and next week’s Australian Open.
Day had been one of Ernie Els’ four captain’s picks for the team chosen earlier this month. The Australian native’s experience in the competition – he’s played five times – as well as his familiarity with the host course made him somebody Els was likely to rely on during the four-day event, despite the fact that Day has just one top-10 finish since the Masters and hasn’t won a tournament title since 2018.
Day said in a statement that he had been practising in recent days in Palm Springs in preparation for the Presidents Cup and the Australian Open when he hurt himself.
“Frustratingly, I’ve been through back problems before and my medical team decided it best to shut down all practice and play,” said Day, who did not elaborate on the specifics of the injury.
“Therefore, I wanted to inform Golf Australia as well as provide Ernie as much time as possible to best prepare our International Team for Royal Melbourne. I look forward to playing at home in the near future. My best to all the competitors in Sydney and my teammates in Melbourne.”
Els took little time to fill the open spot on his team, immediately naming Byeong Hun An. The South Korean native had three top-10 finishes and eight top-25s during the 2018-’19 PGA Tour season. He continued that strong play this fall to start the 2019-’20 season, with three more top-10 finishes.
We wish Jason well and hope his back recovers quickly. We were eager to have Jason as part of the team at Royal Melbourne and his experience will be missed,” Els said in a statement. “The good news is that there were a number of strong and qualified players available to choose from when I made my captain’s selections. To have someone as steady and talented as Ben An puts us in a great position to succeed. Ben played extremely well this fall and throughout the year and he will fit in nicely on this team.”
An is the second South Korean player on the International team, joining Sungjae Im.
“It was a huge surprise to receive a call from Ernie who told me that I was in the team,” An said. “It has been a goal of mine all season to be on the International team, and I am honoured to play in my first Presidents Cup. I’m looking forward to joining Ernie and the rest of the team in Melbourne and, more importantly, contribute to the International team’s goal to win the Cup.”
The news of Day’s withdrawal comes two weeks after Brooks Koepka, the leading qualifier for the United States team, announced he would be skipping the competition due to a knee injury. Rickie Fowler was named as his replacement.
The Australian Open starts at The Australian Golf Club in Sydney on Thursday, with the Presidents Cup to be played at Royal Melbourne the following week.