SYDNEY (AFP) – Devastated Australian golfer Jason Day will tee off at the World Cup in Melbourne this week after learning that eight relatives died when Super Typhoon Haiyan smashed the country.
The world number 20, whose mother is from the Philippines, lost his grandmother, an uncle and six cousins.
“I am deeply saddened to confirm that multiple members of my family lost their lives as the victims of Typhoon Haiyan,’’ said Day, who will partner Adam Scott as they attempt to wrest the trophy from the United States at Royal Melbourne.
“My family and I are thankful for all who have reached out with their prayers and concern,’’ he said in a statement.
“We feel devastated for all who have been affected by this horrific tragedy.’’
He added that he would be making no further comment and asked that the family’s privacy be respected.
Day’s mother Dening grew up in the region devastated by Haiyan but migrated to Australia three decades ago, where she raised her son in a small town south of Brisbane.
Day has since risen through the ranks to become one of the world’s top players, winning his first US PGA event at the Byron Nelson Championship in 2010.
Dening told Monday’s Gold Coast Bulletin newspaper that her daughter had been keeping her brother informed about the tragedy, saying she did not want to bother him “because he has commitments’’.
“There will be plenty of time to talk after (the World Cup). He’s representing his country so I don’t want him worrying about anything apart from golf.’’
The November 8 super storm, packing some of the strongest winds ever recorded, has left an estimated 1.9 million-3.0 million people displaced, while the official death toll is 3,976 with 1,590 people missing.
While eight relatives perished, one aunt was found alive despite being swept to another village, and another aunt’s family survived after binding themselves together with rope and taking refuge in an attic, but they lost everything they owned.
“It was so hard because we couldn’t get hold of anybody,’’ Dening said, adding that her niece eventually put an update on Facebook.
“We thought my entire family had died and it was three days later we found out some had lived.’’
She added: “I have to be strong for my children but when I’m asleep and alone, I mourn.’’
The World Cup runs from November 21-24.