Lake Forest, Ill. — Jason Day’s longtime coach and mentor is no longer his caddie.
In a surprising move, Day said Wednesday he has parted ways with Colin Swatton for at least the rest of the year, though he will keep him as the only coach he has ever had. It was the third split this year involving top players and their longtime caddies. Phil Mickelson and Jim “Bones” Mackay split after 25 years, while Rory McIlroy parted with J.P. Fitzgerald after nearly a decade.
“I never wanted it to turn into a toxic relationship,” Day said. “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.”
Swatton was as much a life coach as his golf instructor and caddie. Day was a 12-year-old in Australia who got caught up in drinking and fighting after his dad died. His mom depleted her savings and borrowed to send him to Koralbyn International School in Queensland, where Swatton ran the golf program.
Swatton encountered a head-strong kid and helped him become a major champion and, eventually, No. 1 in the world.
Day, however, is enduring a troublesome year on and off the golf course. He has fallen from No. 1 to 9 in the world ranking, and his FedEx Cup ranking of No. 28 means he is in jeopardy of not advancing to the Tour Championship for the first time in five years.
Ultimately, he found his relationship with Swatton getting stale. He said the last two tournaments were particularly strained, with them hardly speaking.
“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 just the chemistry between me and Col just slowly over time … and it’s more my fault really, because he’s out there trying to do the best job he can.
Except for the 2014 Tour Championship when Swatton was injured, Day has never had anyone but his coach on the bag at PGA Tour events.
Day is using Luke Reardon, his roommate from a golf academy in Australia, for the BMW Championship this week at Conway Farms, and for the Tour Championship next week in Atlanta if Day stays in the top 30. After that, Day said he might consider using multiple caddies for job-sharing, hire a full-time caddie or even bring Swatton back.
Bae returns from service
Former PGA Tour winner Sangmoon Bae will play in his first professional tournament in more than two years. Bae, whose last pro tournament was at the 2015 Presidents Cup, will begin play today in the Donghae Open. He was discharged from compulsory military service in his native South Korea in August.