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Published: Monday, 4/11/2011

Central Ohio woman captured Day's heart

BY DAVE HACKENBERG
BLADE SPORTS COLUMNIST

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Jason Day was a 17-year-old amateur when he met the young lady who he claims he knew immediately would be his wife. Sunday, Ellie Day got some TV time as Jason finished birdie-birdie to grab a share a second place at the Masters.

Ellie is from Lucas, Ohio, which she described as "out in the sticks" near Mansfield. She was working at a restaurant in Twinsburg, Ohio, and going to beauty school when Jason happened to stop by for dinner after a tournament round.

"It was sort of a random meeting," she said Sunday evening. "I was 19, he was 17, and that was about it. Somehow, a year later, he was back in the area and he got my phone number. I went and watched him play the final round of a Nationwide [Tour] event in Cleveland, and he won. I drove down to Columbus for his tournament the next week, and we had our first real date.

"Two weeks later, I'm in Florida with him, and we've been together ever since."

The couple was married in October, 2009.

Day, 23, who moved into contention with a 64 during Friday's second round, finished tied with fellow Aussie Adam Scott at 12-under 276, two shots behind champion Charl Schwartzel.

"You get a little greedy and you think about winning, but this was Jason's first Masters, and, believe me, there's no disappointment at all," Ellie said. "I'm so ridiculously proud of him."

QUAKE RELIEF: Ryo Ishikawa donate his winnings -- $93,200 -- to relief efforts toward the March 11 earthquake and tsunami that ravaged Japan. The Japanese star announced earlier that he is donating all of his 2011 earnings on the golf course to quake victims.

STRICKER'S SCHEDULE: Golf fans will be seeing a little less of Steve Stricker this summer.

Stricker said Sunday he plans to reduce his schedule, playing only 16 or 17 tournaments. The 44-year-old has two daughters, 12 and 4, and wants to be able to spend more time with them.

"It's just time to stay home a little bit more," said Stricker, who still lives year-round in Madison, Wis.

This is not a step toward the Champions Tour, however.

Stricker won twice last year and has three top-10 finishes already this year. He tied for fourth last week in Houston. He made seven birdies yesterday on his way to a 2-under 70 and finished the Masters tied for 11th at 5 under.

"If you looked at my last five wins, they were all coming off a week off or two weeks off," Stricker said. "So that kind of told me something, too, that it's not bad for me to come back and feel rested. And I work at it a lot at home too. That's the goal, to stay home a little bit more and then be prepared and ready to play fewer tournaments than I've been playing."

NO REPEAT: Phil Mickelson won't be rolling through the Krispy Kreme drive-thru in his green jacket anytime soon.

Lefty could never get his putter going, costing the defending champ any chance he had of winning a fourth Masters title. His final-round 74 was his worst round of the week, and he finished the tournament tied for 27th at 1 under.

"I struggled with the blade again today, and it was a frustrating week, really, putting," Mickelson said. "I love these greens. I usually putt them very well, but I struggled this week."

Mickelson plans to take the next three weeks off before playing Charlotte and The Players Championship.

"I'm excited about playing golf and finishing the year right," he said. "I feel like my game has been coming around, and I'm looking forward to getting back out and competing."

AUSSIE, AUSSIE, AUSSIE: The Aussies brought their own army to the Masters.

With Jason Day and Adam Scott playing together and in contention until the very end, their gallery was filled with giddy fellow Australians. One group of men wore suits that looked like Australia's Southern Cross flag, while three others sported shirts from Essendon, an Australian Rules football team.

John Duncan and 11 of his friends roamed Augusta National in matching bright orange shirts with "US Masters Tour 2011" patches on the left sleeve.

No Aussie has ever won the Masters, but the tournament has special significance to Australians because of Greg Norman's heartbreaks here.

"We can win the other majors, but we can't win at the Masters for whatever reason," Duncan said.

And the drought will extend for another year. Scott and Day finished two strokes behind Charl Schwartzel at 12 under, while Geoff Ogilvy was at 10 under.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.



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