Jason Day gives back after BMW ace, finds comfort with new caddie

LAKE FOREST, Ill. – With one swing of a 7-iron, Jason Day made the Western Golf Association’s Evans Scholars Foundation very happy.

The Evans Scholars Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Illinois that provides college scholarships to golf caddies. And Day’s hole-in-one at the 186-yard, par-3 17th hole Friday at Conway Farms not only earned the foundation $100,000 in the form a four-year scholarship for a deserving caddie. But the BMW M760i that Day was awarded for his ace? Day, who has an endorsement deal with Lexus, donated the car worth nearly $160,000 to the Evans Scholars, as well.

“We definitely, to be out here on Tour we give back a lot and BMW be able to give back as well to a student being able to go through college is huge,” Day said. “That’s why earlier I said I’m going to donate that car back to help another student because I am in a fortunate position and being able to not only impact one person but be able to impact another person’s life, to be able to get them to go through college as well is huge.”

Day isn’t the only one in a giving mood this week. Conway Farms has been kind to the 29-year-old Aussie, who comfortably sits at 13 under through two rounds despite an uncomfortable start to the week.

The former World No. 1, and now No. 9, announced Wednesday that he had decided to part ways with longtime caddie Col Swatton, who was on Day’s bag for 11 years but will likely still serve as Day’s swing coach. With friend Luke Reardon on the bag for the first time at the BMW Championship, it was tough to gauge how Day would respond to the change, especially considering his season hasn’t exactly been awe-inspiring and Day seemed quite unsure about his choice to let Swatton go.

But Day was excited to see how he would perform while taking ownership of his own golf shots. In recent events, Day said he and Swatton started to not talk during warm-ups or after tournaments, and that on the course he would take out bad play on his former looper.

“The more you can be mentally relaxed or rested, it takes a lot of stress and kind of pressure off of your game,” said Rickie Fowler, who is also at 13 under through two rounds.

After 36 holes at the BMW, Day is feeling better about his decision. He followed an opening 6-under 65 with a 7-under 64 Friday, a round that not only included the ace but also an eagle and five birdies. And he is very much in the mix to return to the winner’s circle for the first time since the 2016 Players Championship.

“I think my mindset is a lot different,” Day said. “I feel like I’m a lot more excited having my buddy on the bag. Luke is doing a great job.”

Day said Reardon, who will also caddie at next week’s Tour Championship and the Australian Open later this year, walked the course three times before Thursday to make sure his yardages were all correct. Day also revealed that Reardon was a little nervous, and that Day had to tell his mate to get out of other players’ lines on a couple of occasions in the first round.

But Reardon, who Day said used to be better than him at one point as a junior golfer in Queensland, is learning quickly. And he has helped Day gather the right yardages this week, including at the 17th. Day thought he would need a 178-80-yard shot to clear the front greenside bunker, but Reardon urged Day to fly it a little farther. The results was obviously perfect.

“That’s the biggest thing for me is for him to be able to be comfortable enough to have the conversations with me out there because, I mean, I’m out there saying should I hit this club or that club, and we grew up together,” Day said. “He’s seen me hit a boat load of shots. We’ve played pretty much every Wednesday and every Saturday together throughout our high school years, and being able to have those conversations, putting my 100-percent trust in his ability to be able to tell me, ‘Okay, I think you should take a little bit off or put more on or hit a different club.’

“That’s the communication that is needed, especially for me to be able to perform the way I have over last two days.”

It’s still uncertain whether Reardon will be a longtime solution on Day’s bag; Day said he plans to assess his caddie situation after the Presidents Cup. But for now, his play at Conway Farms suggest he’s enjoying the freshness of it all.

Almost as much as the Evans Scholars enjoyed what Day did on Friday.

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