Jason Day tight with Michigan's Jim Harbaugh, but Ohio State is still his team

Matt Charboneau
The Detroit News
Australian Jason Day is close with Michigan head football coach Jim Harbaugh, but he remains a die-hard Ohio State fan.

Dublin, Ohio — Is Jason Day about to cross over in one of college football’s most bitter rivalries?

Relax, Buckeyes. One of the top-ranked golfers in the world is still an Ohio State fan, but he makes no apologies for his budding friendship with Michigan head football coach Jim Harbaugh.

“Well, I’m really close with Urban as well, so I’ve got to try and play Switzerland here,” Day said Tuesday as he prepared to play in The Memorial at Muirfield Village, just outside of Columbus. “Mind you I’m from Australia, but I am a big Ohio State fan. So as long as we keep beating Michigan, I’m OK with that.”

Day, the 16th-ranked golfer in the world, has lived in the Columbus area since he got married in 2009. His wife, Ellie, is from Ohio and the couple has continued to make the state their home ever since. During that time, Day, a native of Beaudesert, Queensland, Australia, has become a big football fan, namely of the Buckeyes.

However, he also was paired with Harbaugh during the 2013 Pebble Beach Pro-Am, just weeks after Harbaugh’s San Francisco 49ers team lost to the Baltimore Ravens in the Super Bowl — the same Ravens team coached by Harbaugh’s brother, John.

Since then, Day and Jim Harbaugh have remained close. At last week’s PGA Championship at Bethpage State Park in Farmingdale, N.Y., Harbaugh was on hand to support Day.

“He actual texted me the week prior and asked if I could get him some tickets,” Day said. “I’ve known Jim ever since he was the coach of the 49ers, and I played with him right after the loss to his brother in the Super Bowl. He’s been a good friend of mine for a while now, so it was nice to see him at the PGA.”

Day finished tied for 23rd at the major championship he won in 2015. Harbaugh, meanwhile, had quite a trip as he took in a Yankees game the day before attending the third round of the PGA Championship along with his father and one of his sons.

Hanging out with two of college football’s most notable coaches isn’t Day’s only connection to the game of football. Back in 2015, Day was on the sidelines of a Lions-Packers game, one Detroit fans would like to forget after the Packers won on a last-second Hail Mary.

But Day took advantage of his connections with some the media to see the game from a unique vantage point.

“I’m actually friends with a lot of the camera guys out here and lot of the camera guys out here they end up doing football as well in the golf offseason,” Day said. “So I got the red vest on and was running back and forth down the line. It was actually quite neat to see how physical the guys are. I’m glad I play golf because I wouldn’t be able to get up, especially with how those guys hit each other.”

The Memorial is about as close to a home game as Day gets, and winning at the tournament hosted by Jack Nicklaus would be huge for the 12-time winner on Tour.

“This is his tournament and with how much he’s meant to the game it would be nice to walk up, take my hat off and shake his hand,” Day said. “That’s the goal every time I play this tournament.”

It might also be the best chance for fans from the Detroit area to see Day compete. Chances of him committing to the inaugural Rocket Mortgage Classic at the end of June at Detroit Golf Club are slim. Day already is committed to the Travelers Championship the week before and the 3M Open the week after, making it unlikely he would play four straight weeks with the U.S. Open being played June 13-16.


Twitter: @mattcharboneau