PGA: Why Jason Day Dropped His Caddie of 11 Years
Earlier in September there was a speculation story in much of the golf media, predicting that Jason Day would be dropping his caddie Colin Swatton, and hiring Luke Reardon as his caddie from now on. Using different caddies throughout the year is not entirely unheard of, even for golfers at the highest level. However, the initial report stated that this wouldn’t be a temporary change, but a permanent one.With a few days in between, it has now been confirmed, and Luke Reardon is on caddie duty for the final FedEx Championship outings, and for Jason Day’s foreseeable future. Let’s take a look at what happened, why it happened, and what Jason has had to say about it.
How Long Have Jason Day and Colin Swatton Been Working Together?
Swatton has been caddie for Jason Day for more than 11 years. The news came as a massive surprise to Swatton, and it was probably incredibly difficult for Jason to tell him. Why? Because Swatton has been something of a father figure for Jason, having met the golfer when he was just 12 years old. Throughout amateur golfing and into minor tours and the PGA Tour, Swatton has been a major part of Jason’s success. Such a long partnership in golf is always difficult to dismantle, and Jason was straightforward when talking about it to the media. He is quoted as saying that “He [Colin Swatton] needed some time just going over thing 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. 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.”One of the biggest problems for the pair was that the chemistry between the two had changed in recent months. Jason Day hasn’t had the best season in 2017. His best finish this season was 2nd place at the AT&T Byron Nelson. His next best finishes were T5 at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, and T6 at The Northern Trust Tournament. He has only been in the Top 10 at four tournaments, and didn’t improve on his record of 10 career wins.Pressure was created by having a winless season, despite Jason Day still being ranked 9th in the Official World Golf Rankings. Because Swatton coaches Jason, it’s likely that some disagreements would have surfaced on the courses throughout the year. Although we’ll likely never know the exact details of just how bad the relationship became, we can at least interpret that there was enough tension there for Jason to think that it was impacting his performance.Jason admitted to blaming things on Swatton that were actually outside of his control. It has also emerged in the news that the two stopped communicating outside of golf. Knowing that their relationship was more than just a professional one, Jason took the decision to release Swatton as his caddie, to preserve the friendship and mutual respect that the two have.Jason told the media that “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. 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.”Although Swatton won’t be at the tournaments with Day, he will still coach, just as he has done since Day was 12 years old. Jason confirms this by saying “He’s always going to be my coach, always will, unless he gets paid more somewhere else. 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.”Swatton’s replacement will be Luke Reardon. Day and Reardon both attended the same golf academy in Australia as youths. Reardon is completely unproven, but a fresh caddie relationship could be exactly what Day needs. Even if it turns out to be the wrong decision, Day isn’t ruling out future caddie work for Swatton. He said that “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. 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.”
Not the First Caddy Split This Year
Although the news will come as a surprise to many golf fans, it’s not the first story like this from 2017. Phil Mickelson split from caddy Jim Mackay earlier this year, and has struggled to regain his form since then. Rory McIlroy also fired his caddy, J.P. Fitzgerald, and he has also struggled to get to the level that he has been at in previous years. The relationship between a golfer and a caddie can be complex, but when it works well, it can be the best thing to elevate a golfer’s game. Watching Jason Day for the rest of this year and into next season will be interesting, if only to see whether this drastic change will be able to improve his game.