Villegass caddie opts for Nationwide Tour
Waldman said Wednesday he will play the Nationwide Tour next year instead of working for one of golf’s top players. Waldman earned that shot by completing an amazing ride through Q-School and shooting a 68 in the sixth and final round.
It wasn’t enough to earn a PGA Tour card, but he is fully exempt on the next best tour in the United States.
The hardest part of his journey was the final decision – give up financial security by working for Villegas, or grind it out on a tour with no guaranteed pay from smaller purses.
“It’s just a dream,” Waldman said. “I don’t want to look back knowing that I had the chance to do it and not doing it, and hating myself for it. I would always look back and say, ‘What if?’ There’s a reason I got to where I am. I might as well chase the dream.”
Waldman had not played competitively since he was eliminated from the second stage of Q-School in 2002. He went to work as a caddie for his cousin, Tom Pernice Jr., for Ben Crane and eventually Villegas.
On a whim – and with prodding from his wife, Angel – he decided to try PGA Tour qualifying this year and was one of only nine players who made it through a pre-qualifier (four rounds) and the next two stages of four-round tournaments. While trying to advance, he continued to work for Villegas at the Tour Championship and tournaments in China and Australia.
“I’m very happy for Brett,” Villegas said. “We had a great talk during the Q-School tournament and then again after he earned his Nationwide card. He is chasing his dream and I fully support him. He knows that I will do everything I can to help him, but he’s already taken a very big step on his own. I’m proud of him.”
Waldman said he decided to play after talking to his wife, several friends – including Dallas Cowboys quarterback Jon Kitna – caddies and players. Support was one-sided, and he told Villegas of his decision on Tuesday night.
“Camilo was great,” Waldman said. “I don’t think he was surprised. I think he expected it. I told him I was sorry, because I feel like we’ve got unfinished business. But all along, he has been unbelievable supportive and respectful.”
Waldman will start his Nationwide Tour season the last week of February at the Panama Claro Championship. His next event will be in Colombia, of all places, the home country of Villegas.
“I can’t image I’m going to be as popular as he is – even though I did caddie for him,” Waldman said with a laugh.
Even so, he has been amazed by the attention he has received. Waldman is not the only caddie capable of golf at a high level, and others have been on the PGA Tour before going to work as a caddie. What made him different was that he never reached the big leagues, and earned Nationwide status despite not having played serious golf in eight years.
“It was overwhelming, the amount of people supporting me,” he said. “When you’ve got the best players in the world pulling for you, it’s pretty cool.”
The first order of business: the former caddie finding a caddie for himself. He used PGA Tour caddies through Q-School, including the caddie for Matt Kuchar in two important stages. Waldman said he probably would ask a former college teammate.
“I’m pretty sure no one on the PGA Tour will want to caddie for me on the Nationwide Tour,” Waldman said.
Lexi (wrist) WDs from Diamond Resorts Invitational
Lexi Thompson on Friday withdrew from the Diamond Resorts Invitational, citing inflammation in her wrist. Thompson, who teamed with Tony Finau to finish tied for fourth place in last week's QBE Shootout, said she is under strict doctor's order not to hit golf balls until mid-January.
The Diamond Resorts Invitational is scheduled Jan. 12-14 at Tranquilo Golf Club in Orlando, Fla. The field for te 54-hole event includes LPGA and PGA Tour Champions players, as well as celebrities from the worlds or sports and entertainment.
Rose leads Indonesian Masters; Snedeker WDs
JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose completed the final two holes of his second round early Saturday for a 3-under 69 and a one-stroke lead at the Indonesian Masters.
Rose, who had a first-round 62, was among a quarter of the field forced off the Royale Jakarta Golf Club course after weather delays on Friday.
The Englishman, who bogeyed his last hole, had a two-round total of 13-under 131.
Kiradech Aphibarnrat, who completed his 64 on Friday, was in second place.
Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters. He has been affected by a rib-sternum injury for most of the season.
Newsmaker of the Year: No. 2, Donald Trump
Even away from the White House, President Donald Trump generated plenty of headlines this year.
Trump’s first year in office didn’t dim his enthusiasm for the game, as he made splashy appearances at two big events, tweeted about golf to his more than 44 million followers, teed it up with some of the sport’s biggest stars, including Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Lexi Thompson, and fired a few eyebrow-raising scores. Logging more than 75 rounds since his inauguration, the 3-handicap has only bolstered his reputation as the best golfing president, particularly after his alleged 73 with Sen. Lindsey Graham.
None of his appearances created a bigger stir than when he attended the U.S. Women’s Open. Despite protests and calls for the USGA to move its premier women’s event from Trump Bedminster – the president reportedly threatened to sue – his weekend there went off without incident, as Trump watched the action and hosted players in his private box near the 15th green.
Despite his controversial rhetoric on a variety of national issues, Trump has remained a staunch supporter of women’s golf, and he became the first sitting president to attend the U.S. Women’s Open.
An honorary chairman of the Presidents Cup, Trump also flew to Liberty National for the biennial team event, where he presented the trophy to the U.S. team and dedicated the victory to the hurricane victims in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico.
In late November, amid tweets about the national anthem, Turkey, Egypt and Time Magazine, Trump announced that he was playing a round in South Florida with Woods and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson.
Yes, that too became a headline, just like everything else Trump did in 2017.
Playing with the pros
Tiger, DJ and Faxon
President at the Presidents Cup
Purported round of 73 with Lindsey Graham
Cart on the green
Presence and protests at U.S. Women's Open
Trump golf properties
Reportedly fake TIME covers
Trump apologizes for voter-fraud story
Pros comment on the president
Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017
GolfChannel.com is counting down the top 10 Newsmakers of the Year as voted on by Golf Channel’s writers, editors, reporters and producers. Check out the list below, including future release dates. And click here for the full collection of articles.
No. 1: Dec. 18