[PHOTO: Stacy Revere]

Jason Day has 13 career PGA Tour wins, including a major. He’s earned more than $US60 million on the golf course. At tournaments now, he could stay in any luxury home or hotel that he wants to, though he and his family use their motorhome if they’re on the road with him.

It wasn’t always this way, of course, and Day was reminded of that on Wednesday in his return to the John Deere Classic at TPC Deere Run, where, in 2006, he made his first start as an 18-year-old professional. He’d only recently married his wife of now 18 years, Ellie.

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“I think we might have stayed down at the Super 8 [motel] somewhere,” Day recalled.

Sitting next to him during the interview was long-time PGA Tour media official Doug Milne, who happened to be working that same Deere week of Day’s debut. Milne also was staying in the hotel, and the two ended up having this entertaining exchange:

Day: “I think back then your AC unit fell out of the wall.”

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

Day: “Then my caddie at the time, Colin [Swatton], you walk into his room, and it had a heart-shaped bathtub right next to the bed. It was like high-rent stuff back then… I walked in [to my room] and tried to close my curtains. My curtain fell off – it broke off, and I’m like, ‘Well, I guess I’m waking up at butt-crack of dawn now.’ Good memories, man.”

Day is indeed staying in his RV this week with Ellie and their five kids – the most recent of which, daughter Winnie, was born last September.

“You got room?” Milne joked.

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

From that week in Silvis, Illinois, it would take Day four years to earn his maiden victory at the 2010 Byron Nelson. His best season has been 2015, when the Queenslander notched five victories, including the PGA Championship. Injuries have slowed Day during his career, and he went through a five-year victory drought that he fixed with a win in last year’s AT&T Byron Nelson. At No.36 in the world, he’s getting the opportunity to play in his first Olympics after skipping a chance for 2016 in Rio.

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“Looking back on it, I probably should have gone to Rio and played,” Day 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 for it.”

Interestingly, Day is playing in his first John Deere in 13 years despite never having missed the cut while notching two top-15 finishes.

This week, he’s noticed there are fewer trees at Deere Run while marvelling at the pretty views of the river. The Super 8? It’s long been in the rearview mirror.