Jason Day’s Withdrawal Begs Question: ‘Will Golf Start Having Injury Reports?’

Mar 07, 2019 5:32 PM EST
Credit:

Kyle Terada, USA Today Sports. Pictured: Jason Day

  • Jason Day withdrew from the 2019 Arnold Palmer Invitational in the middle of his first round.
  • Jason Sobel wonders whether or not the legalization of gambling will lead to players having to submit an injury report.

ORLANDO, Fla. – Jason Day played six holes at the Arnold Palmer Invitational on Thursday morning, then hit an approach shot into the seventh hole and winced in pain – not for the first time.

He turned to his caddie and playing partners, explained that he couldn’t continue because of a back injury, and was driven away in a golf cart for the ninth official withdrawal of his PGA Tour career.

Minutes later, he told reporters that after practicing at TPC-Sawgrass this past Saturday, “I woke up and couldn’t really walk or sit in the car.”

He divulged that an MRI earlier in the week had revealed an annular tear in his L4-L5 discs. He’d skipped the Wednesday pro-am, but was hoping the pain would subside enough to allow him to play the tournament rounds.

Almost immediately, the Venn Diagram of observers which encompass the golf, gambling and social media communities were in an uproar over the fact that Day hadn’t previously released public information regarding his health status.

It is important to note that, for both matchup and outright bets, as soon as a player takes a swing, the action is live. (So if you bet Day in the Arnold Palmer Invitational, your bet is graded as a loss.)

Unlike professional team sports such as the NFL and NBA, PGA Tour members are independent contractors and aren’t required to announce such information.

Despite bemoaning the latest in a long line of similar situations, these observers shouldn’t expect anything to change anytime soon.

“For the foreseeable future, medical information is considered confidential,” a PGA Tour spokesperson told The Action Network. “Players are not required to disclose an injury.”

Even as the PGA Tour is lobbying states to legislate sports gambling so that it can be regulated, don’t assume that we’ll start seeing an official injury list anytime soon.

While there might be specific situations – such as Day’s – where this information can help bettors gain an advantage, there are just as many where it would have an antithetical impact.

The truth is, almost every single professional golfer is “injured” to some degree. Asking for classification of those ailments would be akin to the New England Patriots placing Tom Brady as “probable” on its team injury list – a designation which has occurred nearly 200 times during his career.

Even if information about Day missing the pro-am was more widely publicized, it might not have been a hindrance to bettors. On three previous occasions in his career, he’s skipped the Wednesday festivities due to injury or illness, only to win the golf tournament four days later.

All of which leads to four little words every golf handicapper knows all too well: “Beware the injured golfer.”

A player doesn’t need to be Tiger Woods at the 2008 U.S. Open, limping around on a torn ACL and multiple stress fractures in his leg, to have a malady leaving him at something less than 100 percent.

We can run through dozens of tournaments over the years where a player nursing an injured shoulder or neck or back was able to overcome the pain – and the odds – to vanquish his fellow competitors.

If there’s irony in the latest situation, it’s that Day is amongst the most honest players when it comes to vocalizing his health. While others might remain tight-lipped, he’s open to allowing such information – even to a fault, as he’s often criticized for bellyaching beforehand.

We can’t have it both ways. We can’t request more information and collectively roll our eyes when we receive it.

As legalized gambling makes the PGA Tour an increasingly alluring product for gamblers, the subject of an injury list will become a recurring hot-button issue. Don’t expect it to change, though, for reasons ranging from privacy to logistics.

Besides, as one player summed it up Thursday, “That’s why they call it gambling.”

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