Jason Day on the Ohio Pub Where He Met His Wife

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Emerging from a troubled youth to become the best golfer in the world takes love and support. The Aussie champion tells us where he found it. As told to Di Webster. 

Kooralbyn, Queensland

2000: I was 12 when I met my coach and caddy, Colin Swatton. My dad, Alvin, who introduced me to golf, had died six months earlier and I was going off the rails at home in Rockhampton. Mum took a second mortgage so I could board at Kooralbyn International School, south of Brisbane, where Colin was the golf coach. I needed a father figure and he filled that spot – but not immediately. When we met, we had an argument. He wanted me to work on my chipping and I wanted to play holes. After that, I went to the par-three course and thought about all the people who’d made sacrifices and believed in me and I realised I was acting like a fool. I apologised and we haven’t fought since. We’ve been together for a good 16 years and he’s been my caddy since I turned pro in 2006. I couldn’t play golf without him.

Twinsburg, Ohio, US

2005: I met my wife, Ellie, when I was 17 and she was 19. She was a waitress at an Irish pub, Mavis Winkle’s, in Twinsburg, Ohio. I was too shy to talk to her but I thought she was gorgeous. I found out that Colin had her number and I texted her: “This is Jason Day from Australia. Do you remember me?” She said yes and we started talking. When I went back in 2007, she watched me play. I won. She had no idea what golf was. Our first date was at a restaurant called Applebee’s in Columbus, Ohio. Afterwards, all I wanted to do was play golf and see Ellie. I knew I wanted to be with her for the rest of my life. I was 21 when we got married. Golfers are selfish and your personal life can get hit by the sacrifices you make to be a better player. To have a person who’s so solid, who loves me as much as anyone could, means everything.

Eastlakes, NSW

2011: At the Australian Open in 2011 – five years after I turned pro – I got paired with Tiger Woods at The Lakes Golf Club. As a kid, I watched him play in the ’97 Masters on TV and read his book – that’s what inspired me to put in the hours, make the sacrifices and work towards being the best golfer in the world. He was my idol. When I came onto the scene, I said hello to him every now and then but I never had the guts to say, “Let’s do a practice round.” I didn’t know if he knew who I was and I didn’t feel I was a good enough player. Suddenly, I’m playing with him in Sydney in front of my home crowd. It was surreal and a moment I’ll never, ever forget. I’m now really close to Tiger. He became such a dominant force in the game and to be able to pick his brain and play against him – not only as an individual but also a peer – is awesome. 

SEE ALSO: Places of the Heart: Adam Goodes

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