OLYMPIA FIELDS, Ill. – For years, Jason Day has called upon Tiger Woods for advice on a variety of matters.
In 2015, for instance, when he started his journey to World No. 1 with seven wins in 17 starts, including the 2015 PGA Championship and BMW Championship and the 2016 Players Championship, Day was all ears when Woods spoke to the challenges of growing fame and fortune.
They’ve spent hours talking putting, too.
Recently, however, when Day was dealing with a rough patch of play, he again dialed up the digits belonging to the man in the red shirt. Day recently split with long-time coach and mentor Colin Swatton and was looking for something to turn things around after missed four cuts and one WD in six starts.
The main topics on these recent calls? Dealing with a troublesome back and easing the pain and damage by making swing changes.
Woods, who has had four surgical back procedures, the most recent spinal fusion, also remains one of the best iron players in the game and has plenty of answers.
“Ever since me and (swing coach Colin Swatton) kind of split up, I kind of reached out to him and started chatting to him about the swing,” Day said ahead of Thursday’s start of the BMW Championship at Olympia Fields Country Club. During Day’s best days, he would practice up to 10 hours per day, three to four times a week. Now he said it’s a grind to get to five hours because of his back woes. And at the start of 2020, Day would practice putting for 30 minutes; four years ago it was three hours per day.
“I know that his back is far worse off than what mine is,” Day, 32, said. “So right now I talk to him about certain positions in the golf swing to kind of help me in regards to making sure that my swing doesn’t hurt it along even further than what it is right now. Obviously, someone that’s won 82 times, you kind of have to listen.
“Every swing I have on my phone is either myself or Tiger’s swing, so any time I get a Tiger swing from my buddies, I send it straight to him and then we chat about the swing. You know how sometimes Tiger will talk in circles and you don’t understand what he’s talking about? When it comes to the golf swing, I completely understand him. It’s been actually quite refreshing that way.”
Woods has been dishing advice for years to a variety of players, especially during his work as an assistant captain at the 2016 Ryder Cup, 2017 Presidents Cup and as captain in the 2019 Presidents Cup.
“Well, Jason and I have had a great relationship for a very long time, since he’s been on Tour, and we’ve talked about a number of things, and obviously one of the topics we do tend to talk about because we both have bad backs now and mine is a little bit more progressed than his, is trying to deal with it, trying to manage it, and the evolution of the swing,” Woods said. “We can’t do what we used to do, and how do you evolve that and still be effective. But also recovery from day-to-day. Recovery techniques have changed over the years and lifting protocols have changed. So there’s a lot to do with it.
“You can only swing the club how the body allows you to, and I know that firsthand from all my nine previous procedures that I’ve had done to my body. It’s just one of those things that as we age we wear things out.”
Day has tinkered here and there and has been swinging better of late. The 12-time PGA Tour winner notched four consecutive top-10s, including a tie for fourth in the PGA Championship. But Day, who last won on the Tour in the 2018 Wells Fargo Championship, missed the cut last week in the FedEx Cup Playoffs opener in the Northern Trust and stands 50th in the standings entering the BMW Championship. If he’s to make it to next week’s Tour Championship for the final event of the postseason, he likely needs a top-4 finish.
“I’ve got to play kind of lights-out here,” Day said. “I feel like this is a week where everything has to align correctly for me. I don’t want to take off next week. I feel that my game has been trending upward in good position going into these weeks, but unfortunately last week, I went backwards.
“This is a kind of do-or-die moment for me in this season. I’ve just got to really kind of bear down here and play good.”
By Steve DiMeglio
This article originally appeared on GolfWeek.com.