Day at home playing for visiting team

September 26, 2013
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM Chief of Correspondents

You've heard of the man without a country? Well, Jason Day will have two this week when he plays in the Presidents Cup.

The Australian is making his second appearance on the International Team. But he has lived in the United States for the last seven years -- and his home course happens to be Muirfield Village, which hosts the biennial competition for the first time this week.

Make no mistake. Day's allegiance is to International Captain Nick Price and his 11 teammates. He'll be introduced on the first tee each day as being from Queensland, Australia, and acknowledges that only the most avid golf fans probably know he lives in Columbus, Ohio.

But the talented 26-year-old realizes he's in a unique position, and his family and friends may have some divided loyalites when the match play competition begins.

"I don't know how the crowd's going to react to me," Day said with a hearty laugh. "That's the thing. I'm a member there. I'm a local guy now. I think they'll cheer for me but I still think they'll want the Americans to win which is fair enough. 

"But if you're kind of not a golf fan and you don't know that I live there, obviously you're going to be rooting against me."

Day's wife Ellie grew up in Lucas, Ohio, a town of about 600 that is about an hour north of Columbus. After she graduated from high school in 2004, she moved to Twinsburg, where she worked at a local restaurant while she went to beauty school.

That's where she first met Day, who was 17 and happened to be in the area because his long-time coach and caddy Colin Swatton was helping a friend open a golf academy. The two texted as he traveled, and three years later, Day won a Tour event outside Cleveland with Ellie in his gallery. Their first date came in Columbus the next weekend -- dinner at Applebee's and a horror movie. 

So the Columbus area, so close to her family and friends, was an easy choice when the couple was looking to settle down with their young son, Dash. Their  home in Westerville is about 30 minutes from Muirfield Village, and Day plays Jack Nicklaus' signature creation several times a week when he isn't competing in a PGA TOUR event. 

Day has gotten to know quite a few members of the Columbus Blue Jackets, the city's NHL team, who are also members at Muirfield Village. The Blue Jackets open their season on Friday night at 7 p.m. ET -- which means his friends might not get to see all six of the Foursomes matches, which begin at 1:10 p.m. -- but they'll be in his cheering section whenever they can.  

"They said that they're going to be rooting for me but obviously rooting for the USA team," Day said. "They want me to play well but they want the Americans to win. Hopefully, my family just wants the Internationals to win -- that would be best. We have to come through with a win sooner or later." 

Over the last few months, Day has seen the Muirfield Village landscape change as hospitality tents have been erected and signage posted throughout the lush, tree-lined layout. He knows how excited his buddies are about the upcoming competition, too. 

"I think it's going to be good," Day said. "I think it's going to be really fun. I know that they're expecting about 35,000 people every day there so they should be pretty loud but everything's kind of in bunched up there, especially the back nine, so you'll be able to hear the crowds roar. 

"It's definitely going to be an exciting Presidents Cup."

The U.S. Team holds a lopsided 7-1-1 advantage in the competition right now with the lone International victory coming at Royal Melbourne in 1998 -- when Day was just 11 years old. He went 1-3-1 on the same course in his Presidents Cup debut.

Day would like nothing better than to be on the team that turns the tide for the Internationals -- not unlike what happened when the Europeans notched their first Ryder Cup victory on U.S. soil on the same Muirfield Village course. 

"It really is an honor to represent the International side," Day said. "... I know that we are going to have a very strong team, and hopefully, we can go out there and blend together and get that second win under our belt. To have the winning putt to clinch the victory for the International Team would be fun. 

"I know that there would be a few drinks passed around. If we do pull it off it would be nice."