PONTE VEDRA BEACH — Jason Day said on Thursday that he received an epidural shot and underwent a rhizotomy over the weekend for his ailing back. The latter is a non-invasive procedure in which a large needle is used to burn nerve endings to relieve pressure on his lower back.
The 32-year-old Aussie, who shot a four-over 76 in the opening round of the Players Championship, played for the first time since withdrawing from last week’s Arnold Palmer Invitational, where he pulled out of the event midway through the second round.
“It’s quite sore,” Day said of his back. “It loosened up on the back nine today a little bit, but I’m still only hitting it about 75 percent of what I normally can.”
Day, who didn’t practice at all this week before teeing it up and only walked nine holes on Monday at TPC Sawgrass, said he considered pulling out of the Players Championship but was told by doctors on Thursday morning that he wouldn’t do any further damage if he played.
Even though he was able to tee it up, Day, the 2016 champion at TPC Sawgrass, struggled much of the afternoon, going out in 40 after four bogeys on the front nine, before making his lone birdie of the day on the par-3 13th. He gave it back, though, with a three-putt from 25 feet for bogey on the par-3 17th.
“I played OK,” Day said. “But I couldn’t feel the clubhead at the bottom of my swing. I can feel [my back hurting] from when I wake up to right now, even when I’m just walking.”
Day also spoke with his trainer during the round on the sixth hole.
“He told me to just keep playing,” Day said, "and just see how you feel in the morning.”