LAKE FOREST, Ill. – Last week, Jason Day talked with Col Swatton, his longtime mentor, coach and caddie, for nearly an hour. When Day broke the news to Swatton – that Swatton’s time as Day’s caddie were over after 11 years – Day said Swatton was shocked and disappointed.
“He needed some time just going over things and really understand my feelings and what I wanted to try to accomplish in my career as a player, and then obviously trying to get his feelings as well,” Day said. “It’s always hard because we’ve been a team for so long. We’ve been really tight and being so close for very long and we’re still close.”
Day said the chemistry between the two as player and caddie started to sour as Day has struggled this season, notching just four top 10s through the Dell Technologies Championship with no wins, all while dropping from first to ninth in the world rankings.
They were butting heads on the course, and Day found himself blaming Swatton for things Swatton couldn’t control. As Day and Swatton started to not talk to each other outside of tournaments, Day knew he had to make a move or risk ruining their relationship off the course.
“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.”
Day reiterated, though, that Swatton is “not out of my world one bit.” Day said Wednesday at the BMW Championship that Swatton will stay Day’s swing coach, a position he’s held since the 29-year-old Day was 12 years old.
“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.”
Day will have friend Luke Reardon on his bag for this week’s FedEx Cup playoff event at Conway Farms, and next week’s Tour Championship should Day qualify. (Day is 28th in the FedEx Cup standings, and the top 30 after the BMW will move on to East Lake.) Day and Reardon were roommates in college and grew up playing golf together in Australia.
Reardon, however, won’t caddie in the Presidents Cup because his visa expires before the event at Liberty National. David Lutterus, a pro golfer ranked No. 1,103 in the world, will loop for Day there.
Day is planning on Reardon being a long-term solution, though he didn’t rule out the possibility of re-hiring Swatton.
“It may be somewhere down the road where four months from now – I don’t even know how long it will be – but I can come back to him and say, ‘Look, man, I made a mistake and I need to come back and have you on the bag,’” Day said.
“… Obviously, I know there’s a relationship there and me and him have been inseparable since the day I came out. Once again, he’s my coach and always will be. I love him so much. I just want to make sure I did the right thing. Obviously, when you let go of someone sometimes it’s hard, but there’s been a lot going this year.”
But for now, Day and Swatton are over as a player-caddie duo. It’s the third high-profile caddie split of this year. Phil Mickelson and Bones Mackay parted ways this summer, followed by Rory McIlroy and J.P. Fitzgerald after the British Open. Mickelson has his brother, Tim, on his bag now while McIlroy has friend Harry Diamond looping.
Mickelson and McIlroy have just one top 10 each since splitting with their caddies.
Day is hoping his change has the opposite effect. He likely needs a 30th-place finish or better to qualify for the Tour Championship.
“In the same sense, I’m excited about the future with regards to I can go out there and take ownership of my golf shots. I have no one to blame other than myself,” Day said. “… The timing can be a little tough but I just was thinking I’m like if I come to an event such as the BMW this week and I’m not clicking within the game, is that going to hurt me or help me?
“I had to make a decision somehow to hopefully help me in the short-term to ultimately help me in the long-term.”