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Jason Day: Pinoy-Aussie golfing champ

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Jason Day is one of the world’s top amateur golfers and is the Filipino’s closest chance, so far, to play in the much coveted greens of the PGA Tour. Jason was born to an Australian father, Alvin, and Filipino mother, Dening, who met through letters and worked as meat workers in Queensland, according to the online version of The Register-Guard. As the youngest player this year to win a PGA Tour-sanctioned event, Jason, who is just two months shy of celebrating his 20th birthday, is being touted as the “Next Big Swing" of the golfing world. Among his wins include the Australian Junior Championship, World Junior Championship, and 2006 Australian Amateur Stroke-Play Championship. Last year, he became a professional golfer who competed and made the cut at the PGA Tour’s John Deere Classic. “He took 11th at one event and 13th at another, earning almost $175,000," according to an article on Times Record in Arkansas. “It’s fun (being a pro golfer at 19), especially meeting a lot of different girls," Jason said. “You get to meet a lot of different people and play in a lot of different tournaments, which is a blessing. I’m just trying to soak it up every week and work hard. My goal is to get back on the PGA Tour in ’08, and I’m working hard at that," he added. Troubled kid Even at a tender age of 19, Jason’s rags-to-riches story already seems to have the right ingredients for a perfect Filipino movie, if ever one is to be made. One day, when Jason was three years old, his father had salvaged for him his very first golf club straight out of a trash heap. Jason was clueless with his father’s gift and instead did what any three-year-old kid would do: smash it into objects. But at the age of six, Jason started to swing it on golf balls instead of tennis balls. On Saturdays, he would go to a local sports clinic near his home in Brisbane and started practicing his backswings. "I always liked to hit things,'' recalled Jason in his interview that appeared on the website of the PGA Tour. "I went to a golf course for the first time at seven and attended all the junior clinics. I fell in love with the game. I'd run back from school and start playing,'' Jason reminisced. However, when Jason was 11, his father started to get ill. In the same article it was said that Alvin began to have persistent stomach pains which the doctors dismissed at first. A month after his first visit to the doctor, Jason’s father was diagnosed with stomach cancer. Four months later, Alvin passed away, leaving Jason with his mother and two other siblings - Yanna and Kim. The then 12-year-old Jason took this tragedy very hard and it showed when his commitment for the sport began to die. “Losing a family member so young, especially losing your dad, it's a pretty big loss in your family. It broke up our family a lot. My sister and I, we went pretty badly. There was me getting in trouble at school, doing stupid stuff," he said on The Register-Guard. In the absence of his father, Jason turned to drinking, partying and staying out late. “I didn't really care about anything. I was very wild. I got into trouble a lot [and] did all the bad stuff," he revealed. On the green Not wanting her son to go astray, Jason’s mother decided to send him to boarding school. However, Dening had other things in mind than just locking her son up to a boot camp. Seeing the immense potential of her son, she sent him instead to a golf academy in the Gold Coast, some seven hours away from their house in Queensland. In the academy, Jason would start his day at 5 am, and start practicing at 5:30. For 33 hours each week, he swung his golf club and aimed for the green. "I was pretty much into my practice. I was curious to see where it would take me,'' he said. Then one day Jason found an interesting biography of a fellow Asian-American golfer who was considered a golf prodigy as a teenager: Tiger Woods. This put the 15-year old back on track. "He's influenced my life dramatically. He's the one big reason I started practicing harder. He's the one reason I started playing this tour. If it wasn't for him, I'd be back home in Australia, and not even playing golf," Jason said on the Register-Guard. "I want to become No. 1 in the world. I was taught in my life, by my parents, that you don't get anywhere without working hard," he added. After his numerous wins in several golfing competitions in Australia and elsewhere, Jason was able to purchase a 2006 Cadillac Escalade worth $60,000. He was also able to purchase a house in Orlando, Florida, USA where the PGA Tour is headquartered. On top of this, Jason paid off the mortgage of his mother’s house in Australia. Now that his career is on a full swing, Jason never forgets to thank his parents, especially his father. "I think he'd be happy, seeing me on the tour, playing well, and obviously growing up," he said. - GMANews.TV
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