WE’VE already had the Phil Mickelson/Bones breakup this year and now there is another shock player-caddie split with Jason Day unexpectedly relieving long time mentor Col Swatton of his bag duties.
After a less than stellar season, Day will have a new caddie on his bag this week when he contests the BMW Championship and attempts to play his way into the very lucrative 30 man Tour Championship – the FedEx Cup Final – next week.
Day and Swatton have seemingly been inseparable since the former was a kid in Queensland and rose to world number one in the golfing world with the latter as his coach, caddie and father figure.
Day has admitted Swatton was “stunned” by his decision to sack him as caddie but says he will stay on as his swing coach.
“I never wanted it to turn into a toxic relationship where he’s taken me from where I am as a 12-year-old kid to where I am today, and I’m not talking to him anymore,” Day said this week as he prepared for the BMW Championship at the Conway Farms Golf Club in Chicago.
“I was worried if I kept it going, it was going to head that way, and I love him too much to have him not in my life because of how special he is to me.”
Swatton has always appeared to be much more than just Day’s golf mentor.
Swatton was the golf instructor at the Kooralbyn International School in Queensland when the 12 year old Day arrived shortly after his father’s death.
As a “surrogate father” figure the pair battled all the way to the pinnacle of the 2015 US PGA Championship and the World Number One ranking.
Apparently as far back as 2012 Day has been contemplating making a switch and after going winless this year and falling to No. 9 in the world, the 29-year-old decided it was time to act.
“Obviously, this is a very hard time for both of us,” said Day, whose last win was the 2016 Players Championship.
“It’s hard because we’ve been a team for so long. Like I said, he was an amazing caddie, amazing coach, amazing person. He’s done pretty much everything he can to get me where I’m going. He’s a father figure for me ever since I was a kid, and I wanted to make sure that it’s still there.”
Day reiterated that Swatton is “not out of my world one bit” and would remain as coach for as long as he wanted
“He’s always going to be my coach, always will, unless he gets paid more somewhere else,” Day said. “I’m planning on trying to keep him around. I don’t want anyone else to get coached by him because he’s a really good coach.”
But he did hint things were not always 100 percent on course with the player-caddie relationship.
“Everything is great when you win, but when you’re playing poorly, that’s when a true test of a relationship actually happens between a player and a caddie,” Day said.
“It’s more my fault, really, because he’s out there trying to do the best job he can and, unfortunately, sometimes it just doesn’t work out no matter how hard he works. The positive vibes and the positives he’s trying to put out and all the numbers that he can get and information he can get sometimes just doesn’t work out.”
As a replacement Day has brought in an old friend in Luke Reardon, who was his roommate at the Hills International College in Australia.
He plans for Reardon to be his long time caddie but due to US visa issues Day will have another friend, Web.com Tour player David Lutterus, caddie for him in two weeks at the Presidents Cup at Liberty National in New York.
Day goes into the BMW this week in 28th position in the FedEx Cup standings and will need a good showing if he is to progress to the fourth and final event of the US PGA TOUR playoffs.
To have a real chance of the US$10 million FedEx Bonus he would ideally need to enter the final event ranked in the top five. Repeating his 2015 victory at this event would do that nicely.
In outwardly much better shape for Australia this week is Marc Leishman, who is seventh in the rankings and in top form this year.
The only other Aussie to make the 70 golfer field is young Cameron Smith, currently ranked at 56th and also in need of a star performance to proceed.