With the US Open championship on the line, Australian golfer Jason Day is fighting a case of benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV). After battling the condition off and on over the past year, it resurfaced throughout Day’s second round, including a scary incident on his final hole when he collapsed to the ground. He was tended to on the course and treated for BBPV Friday night. Still reeling from the effects, Day impressively shot a 2 under 68 on Saturday to move into contention entering the tournament’s final round.
Vertigo is a medical condition that can effect multiple areas of nervous system. BBPV effects the vestibular system, a sensory system located in the inner ear. The vestibular system provides an individual with their sense of balance when standing and moving. It helps the brain process various amounts of information in order to complete both voluntary and involuntary motions when performing complex tasks like swinging a golf club.
An individual affected by vertigo often reports feeling extremely dizzy and a feeling of an uncontrollable spinning motion. Vertigo can be brought on by multiple causes including a head injury like a concussion or, like in Day’s case, BBPV. BPPV is the most common cause of vertigo and is the result of a buildup within the inner ear. BBPV is treatable, but each form of treatment generally takes a considerable amount of time to complete. The medication used to treat BBPV can leave the individual weak and bogged down, a fact echoed by reports that Day completed his third round despite feeling “groggy.”
Day isn’t the first professional athlete to suffer from vertigo. A quick look through the InStreetClothes.com database reveals several cases of NBA players affected by vertigo including Spanish forward Pau Gasol. Gasol missed 12 of his final 13 games with the Lakers during the 2013-14 season. Those games came over a three week stretch for Gasol in which the five-time All-Star spent multiple hours in rehab attempting to move past his vertigo. Other sports stars to suffer from vertigo include former Red Sox outfielder JD Drew and Pro Bowl guard Evan Mathis.
For Day to compress his activities into four consecutive days of golf with the side effects lingering is impressive. To overcome the condition and position himself atop the leaderboard is down right stunning. The Aussie will rest Saturday night and likely undergo another round of medication before teeing off on Sunday. If Day can pull of the stunner and win his first major championship while battling vertigo, his competitor will be the one’s left reeling.