For a Tuesday night during the week of the PGA Championship, this one was certainly much more amusing and eventful than usual and/or expected. It had been a productive day (though it feels like I don’t have enough to show for it unless you follow ALL my social media platforms *hint-hint*…), but I stayed later than I’d like to admit so I could finish uploading/formatting the various forms of content to share them on this site.
Sadly enough, my buddy Jon McCarthy from the Toronto Sun and I were the only two left standing in the media center just after 9pm. (Ugh, it’s even more humiliating to type out.)
We had been told by a PGA of America official who went around to the 15-20 people left an hour or two earlier that the last shuttle for the media parking lot would leave at 9:15pm. So, I sent Jon out ahead of me to ensure it wouldn’t leave without us. When he arrived to the pick-up spot at 9:08, there was no shuttle in sight and the security guards (we’re right next to the entrance gate of Baltusrol) said they hadn’t seen a bus in quite a while.
I’m embarrassed and can’t believe I’m even sharing we were even in that situation. I mean, it was our fault for being so lame and staying that late working at the media center on a Tuesday night (though practice round days are busier for me than tournament days…). But, that’s not important — we can discuss how pathetic I am after I’m done with writing this post. It looked like we were going to have a long, not-very-safe (nor pleasant) walk down a dark and winding road to the media parking lot, but first, Jon had to finish filing his story to meet deadline. Naturally, he took a seat on the curb and broke out his laptop to get it done.
Meanwhile, I tried to figure out a solution that didn’t require a potentially dangerous walk that would’ve taken us about 45 minutes at least. In a sort of sick way — at least in this kind of situation — I enjoy the weird challenge of problem-solving and thinking of alternative solutions that don’t involve the obvious, hellish option. I knew there had to be *someone* who would give us a ride.
As I started seeing a fleet of courtesy cars drive out the gates, I thought about hopping over to the other side, where I could flag someone down or you know, throw my thumb out, hitchhiker style. I kid you not. Desperate times call for desperate measures! Luckily, I didn’t need to go to such lengths. About twenty minutes of discussing the whole situation with one of the security guys, I realized there was a long shot I hadn’t tried and it was actually a realistic fix if the timing worked out.
It wasn’t hard to figure out that the assembly line of Mercedes exiting the grounds meant the PGA Champions Dinner was wrapping up and the guests were clearly making their way toward the exit. So, I texted Ellie, Jason Day’s wife, to ask if she and Jason, who was the guest of honor as the defending champion, were still at the golf course, and quickly explained to her that the last shuttle to media parking didn’t show up, so we were trying to find a ride and the lot wasn’t far away.
A few minutes later, she wrote back asking where I needed to get to and where I was. I told her it was a mile or so away and I was at the entrance of the club, and without hesitation, she responded, “OK coming, we just got into the car.”
Check out the insta-video below…
Naturally, it’s always logical to count on the world no. 1 and his wife to come to your rescue and offer to be your Uber driver — or rather, save the Day. #sorrynotsorry (OK, in the above video, it may look more like the whole thing was more of a coincidence than it was, but it was definitely damn good timing! I asked/told the Days I was SnapChatting the scene and they were cool with it, so it was probably slightly exaggerated, but nonetheless, just comical.)
I wasn’t going to share the story to this extent (other than what I have already on social media), but I think golf fans enjoy hearing that the world no. 1 and his wife are indeed genuinely down-to-earth, considerate and “normal” people. Which is more rare than you may think or maybe not, but most people *do* change and it’s impressive that the Days haven’t since I first met them in 2010. I’d never thought about it until someone asked me if Jason and Ellie were as humble and wonderful as they appeared on TV and via interviews. I didn’t need to ponder long because it’s easy — indeed, they are. And I think that’s evident in the short video clips
I would continue to tell the rest of the story, as it got even more amusing in some ways, but I think I already wrote too many words and gave an extremely long-winded version of a silly yet fun story. Though I will say I did ask Jason if he was OK because I knew he hadn’t practiced or played the course ever (at that point — he fit in 18 on Wednesday). He already said this all in his presser Wednesday morning, but he responded candidly that his kids had been sick and he was feeling a bit under the weather — quickly adding it wasn’t a big deal.
Then, of course, as you’ve probably heard, Ellie had an allergic reaction to something she ate. Jason said it was “seafood,” (which would mean it would’ve been from the Champions Dinner), but Ellie didn’t sound like she knew what caused it and speculated it might have been from their bedding after doing laundry at a wash-and-fold.
“I’m kind of running on E (empty) right now,” said Day. “Ellie is fine now. We both lost a bit of sleep but we’re okay.”
No, I swear, I didn’t slip anything into her water or whatever you lame joke you’re thinking of cracking. Ellie had to be taken to the ER as her entire body broke out in hives and she struggled to breathe. The Days didn’t return from the hospital and get settled for bed until nearly 3am, at which point she had calmed her nerves and felt much better.
Day simply didn’t seem like himself in his presser in the morning, but it seemed more like lack of sleep than anything else, as he honestly was in good spirits the night before (despite sounding a bit congested perhaps).
“You’ve got to come out and fire on all cylinders and get yourself up the leaderboard and show people that you’re there and you’re ready to win,” he said. “But with the limited practice and limited prep that I’ve had this week, I’m not coming in expecting a lot. Obviously I’m expecting to win. But like I’m not really going. All right. You need to go out and force things straightaway.
“I’ve got to really try and manage my patience out there. Because I have very little patience right now. Just for some reason every time I get a little bit under the weather, I’ve got zero patience. I’ve got to try and manage that the best I can.”
Hopefully, all four members of the Day family were able to get some much-needed rest Wednesday night. According to Ben Everill, who followed Day for all 18 holes of his practice round (of course, he did!), the world no. 1 played only “one ball” and shot five-under (by Ben’s count, so might have been a couple foot wedges!), which is pretty damn good for Baltusrol, especially given how exhausted he looked at his presser and then absolutely drained when I saw him afterwards while he signed autographs. In theory, the course sets up really well for his game.
Days will begin his quest to defend his title when he tees off at 8:30am Thursday with Phil Mickelson and Rory McIlroy.
Thanks again for the Uber ride!