Unfortunately one of the abiding images of the 115th US Open will not involve holed putts or a trophy presentation.
Jason Day’s sudden collapse on the 9th fairway at Chambers Bay as he edged towards completion of round two cast a long shadow over an otherwise invigorating day of US Open golf. At one end of the event Jordan Spieth endorsed his willingness to win back-to-back majors. The other saw Tiger Woods leave the scene on an aggregate of 16 over par, having added 76 to Thursday’s hapless round of 80. As Tom Weiskopf, the former Open champion, pointedly put it, Woods has gone “from the top of Mount Everest to the bottom of a coal mine”.
It was with Day, though, that the thoughts of Spieth, Woods and plenty of others were directed. The Masters champion was partnering the world No10 when he fell to the turf on the 9th, the group’s 18th. First impressions were of a slip on a -sloping surface but the reality soon became clear. Day told medical staff who attended to him immediately of vertigo-like symptoms which he has been encountering for a considerable time.
Astonishingly Day finished the par-three hole when far from steady on his feet. He had to let a rules official remove a stone which was adjacent to his ball in a greenside bunker as the Australian believed his hand was too shaky to do it himself. Day was led away from the scene and taken for full assessment straightaway after holing out for a round of 70 which left him at two under par on aggregate and firmly in contention, should he be considered well enough to play through the weekend.
“I turned around and he was lying down. All I heard was that he was -suffering from dizziness,” Spieth said. “At that point it was just about how could we help him out, kind of clear the scene and try and keep the cameras off and let him just rebound from being dizzy.
“I heard earlier in the week that he had been a little under the weather. He could barely even walk when he got up so it was pretty strong of him to finish out there. It came out of the blue. Nothing was mentioned earlier in the round.”
Woods had witnessed the entire incident from the 9th tee. He said: “I didn’t know he was ill but I knew he was laying down there and I know he didn’t play in Dallas this year because of vertigo.
“I played with him at Memorial and we talked about it in depth. I hope he’s OK. I’ll call him as soon as I’m done here and see if he’s all right. He’s one of my really close friends. I’d like to get out of here and see if he’s OK.”
As Woods and Spieth acknowledged, Day has openly admitted to health -worries in the recent past. He withdrew from the Byron Nelson tournament last month when suffering from dizzy spells. Before the first round of this event he revealed the extent of the testing he had undergone in a bid to establish the extent of such issues.
He said: “I had three sleep studies done, I had a lot of blood tests done, I had an MRI on my head, my back and my neck. And everything came back negative. I think I just ran out of gas and I wasn’t feeling good. I had the shakes and the tingling up my arms. And the loss of energy and strength was probably caused by that.”
Woods’s reflections on his own performance last night were therefore limited. The 39-year-old has missed cuts in two of his last three majors and he will inevitably slip outside the world’s top 200 ranked golfers next week. He insists, though, that his plan to compete regularly over the summer, including the Greenbrier Classic from Thursday week, will not change.
“I’m playing the same events,” Woods said. “My schedule is set for the summer. And I’m playing every other week. I’m excited about it. I wanted to shoot five or six today but I wanted to be on the other side of it [par]. I hit the ball a little bit better today. But, again, I made nothing. I didn’t make any putts the first two days; I hit it better today. Hitting some spots where I could hit some putts, I made nothing.
“On a golf course like this you get exposed and you have to be precise and dialled in. And obviously I didn’t have that. Obviously I need to get a little better for the Open and I’ll keep working at it.”
Rickie Fowler joined Woods on a flight out of Washington state. The Players champion’s second round of 73 left him at 14 over, a scenario nobody could have predicted on Thursday morning.
Spieth’s 67 left him at five under par and suddenly the tournament favourite. “It doesn’t matter when it is, if you shoot in the 60s at a US Open you’re going to be pleased,” said the young Texan.
This is a bunched leaderboard, from which any one of 30 players could legitimately prevail. The English pair of Lee Westwood and Justin Rose had moved into contention but both slumped with triple bogeys over the closing stretch.
This article was written by Ewan Murray, for theguardian.com on Friday 19th June 2015 22.26 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010