While Jason Day hit the shots at Whistling Straits his PGA Championship breakthrough was as much Colin Swatton’s as anybody’s.
When caddie and coach Swatton met a 12-year-old Day the pair got into a yelling match of epic proportions, swearing at volume in front of others and going the full hammer and tong.
It was an inglorious opening to what would turn out to be a life changing pairing of a wayward boy who needed direction and a man with an eye for exceptional talent.
As a teacher at Koralbyn International School’s golf academy in Queensland, Swatton had asked Day to work on a particular skill.
Day had other plans and walked off to do his own thing.
To his credit he came back afterwards and said he was sorry and he was here to learn and get better, Swatton recalled.
“I knew then he was different. If he could front up and apologise as a kid I knew there was something in him.”
A relationship and bond formed where Day became like a son and Swatton like a father – Jason’s Dad had passed from cancer – and the kid was drinking and getting in street fights before being shipped to boarding school.
The pair gelled so well Day’s mother Dening insisted if Day was going to be a tour pro, Swatton go with him.
History shows the pair would move to the USA to chase a tour dream, playing on the secondary web.com tour where Day would become the youngest winner in 2007.
By 2010 he was a US PGA Tour winner and now, after several close calls, he is a major champion.
“There’s a lot of tears. This one means a lot. It means a lot to both of us,” Swatton said on the 18th green after the triumph.
“We have come so close a number of times but to walk up 18 today with a three-shot lead was pretty good.
“I am a proud caddie getting the job done in the heat of the battle, I am a proud coach, his swing held up all day and I am super, super proud of him as a father figure.”
Swatton believes the future holds more for Day as the pair try to chase the other goal they’ve had from day one – world No.1 – and multiple majors, starting with a green jacket next year.
A maturity has come into Day’s game.
“I definitely think this can open the floodgates. We wanted this bad,” Swatton said.
“I wouldn’t say that determination was the difference today, I would say it was the comfort and the ease that he felt out there.
“He is determined every time he plays, he wants to win golf tournaments, but today he felt a lot more calm and I could sense that.
“I never doubted this would come. I have always said to him I think he’s a multiple win season player on this tour. And now he knows he can be one and knows he can be a major champion at 20 under, that’s pretty deep.
“He was resilient, he showed tenacity and just the willingness to fight, dig deeper than anybody. He’s gritty, he held off Jordan Spieth and a range of good guys and I couldn’t be more proud.
“He showed me he has another gear and what I already knew – he is the real deal.”