Caddie Life Hurry Up and Wait
Damon Green is the caddie for Scott Hoch. Terry Holt is the caddie for Hank Kuehne. They were perched on golf carts at the Franklin Templeton Shootout, fighting the enforced boredom outside the clubhouse at Tiburon Golf Club in Naples, just passing the time of day.
Green is 43 now, himself a former player on just about every minor-league tour imaginable. He even played Bay Hill a couple of times on sponsors exemptions before he decided to take a spin carrying Hochs bag. Hes been doing the gig three or four years now, and he admits he makes more money doing this than he did as a golfer.
Holt is a native of England who lives now in Jacksonville, Fla., and hes been caddying for many years. Billy Casper was one of his first bags. He carried for Andy Bean. Paul Azinger was another. He has been around the tour for awhile.
Holt is still slender ' thin as a toothpick, actually ' and he looks like he could pass for 15 years younger than his true age. I eat like a horse, actually, said Holt with a grin. The doctors say its a good thing Im very athletic. My blood pressure is very low, something around 100 over 60.
Another caddie pulls up in the walkway outside the locker room. Teddy Two-Stroke, roars Green. Where you been, Teddy Two-Stroke?
Teddy Two-Stroke is the looper for Azinger. His real name is Ted Scott, and Green was having a good laugh at Scotts expense. Scott picked up the nickname because of a two-stroke penalty he cost Azinger at the Canadian Open ' a penalty Azinger didnt realize he had incurred until he had after the fact.
The culprit was a television viewer who made another one of the infamous after-the-fact telephone calls. Scott had removed the flagstick from the 13th hole while Zingers playing partner, Fred Funk, was chipping toward the hole. The ball was barely moving, having traveled two feet past the cup, when Scott grabbed the pin. That, as it developed is a violation of Rule 17-2b.
Did you know about that rule, Terry? asked Green.
Holt, the old veteran, hesitated for a moment. No, I didnt, he admitted.
Ill bet everyone out here has broken that one some time in his life ' everyone. Its just that poor Ted got the penalty put on him.
Ill tell you, said Green, its getting so that you have to carry a complete set of rules around with you at all times. And you dont do ANYTHING until you see if its going to violate a rule.
Scott, a former mini-tour player himself, just grinned. He has taken so much ribbing for the gaffe, but both caddies admitted they didnt know the rule, either.
The topic then changed to the importance of being a good caddie. Green shuddered ' he realizes what a hugely important job it can be. He realizes what the player is thinking ' remember, hes pretty good at this himself. And he realizes that so much is wrapped up in a caddies decision.
Ill be the first to admit it - Im a choking dog out there sometime, said Green. Really.
I caddied for Garrett Willis the last three weeks of the season when Scott (Hoch) wasnt playing. He (Willis) was 124th on the money list when I started. When the season ended, he was, like, 130th. Boy ' every time you pull a 6-iron, you have to think about what a tremendous difference it might be making to a guys career.
Really ' I dont think people realize what an awesome responsibility you have. You can break a man in an instant.
Thats a caddies life ' a lot of down time, a lot of busy time, but always its on someone elses time. The good ones earn a lot. But they are responsible for a lot.
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Ortiz takes Web.com Tour clubhouse lead in Bahamas
Former Web.com Tour Player of the Year Carlos Ortiz shot a bogey-free, 4-under-par 68 Monday to take the clubhouse lead in The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic at Sandals Emerald Bay.
Four other players - Lee McCoy, Brandon Matthews, Sung Jae Im and Mark Anderson - were still on the course and tied with Ortiz at 6-under 210 when third-round play was suspended by darkness at 5:32 p.m. local time. It is scheduled to resume at 7:15 a.m. Tuesday.
Ortiz, a 26-year-old from Guadalajara, Mexico, is in search of his fourth Web.com Tour victory. In 2014, the former University of North Texas standout earned a three-win promotion on his way to being voted Web.com Tour Player of the Year.
McCoy, a 23-year-old from Dunedin, Fla., is looking to become the first player to earn medalist honors at Q-School and then win the opening event of the season.
Randall's Rant: Can we please have some rivalries?
Memo to the golf gods:
If you haven’t finalized the fates of today’s stars for the new year, could we get you to deliver what the game has lacked for so long?
Can we get a real, honest-to-goodness rivalry?
It’s been more than two decades since the sport has been witness to one.
With world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and former world No. 1 Rory McIlroy at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship this week, an early-season showdown would percolate hope that this year might be all about rivalries.
It seems as if the stars are finally aligned to make up for our long drought of rivalries, of the recurring clashes you have so sparingly granted through the game’s history.
We’re blessed in a new era of plenty, with so many young stars blossoming, and with Tiger Woods offering hope he may be poised for a comeback. With Johnson, McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Brooks Koepka and Rickie Fowler among today’s dynamic cast, the possibility these titans will time their runs together on the back nine of Sundays in majors excites.
We haven’t seen a real rivalry since Greg Norman and Nick Faldo sparred in the late '80s and early '90s.
Woods vs. Phil Mickelson didn’t really count. While Lefty will be remembered for carving out a Hall of Fame career in the Tiger era, with 33 victories, 16 of them with Tiger in the field, five of them major championships, we get that Tiger had no rival, not in the most historic sense.
Phil never reached No. 1, was never named PGA Tour Player of the Year, never won a money title and never dueled with Woods on Sunday on the back nine of a major with the title on the line. Still, it doesn’t diminish his standing as the best player not named Tiger Woods over the last 20 years. It’s a feat so noteworthy it makes him one of the game’s all-time greats.
We’ve been waiting for an honest-to-goodness rivalry since Faldo and Norman took turns ruling at world No. 1 and dueling in big events, including the back nine of multiple majors.
In the '70s, we had Nicklaus-Watson. In the '60s, it was Nicklaus-Palmer. In the '40s and '50s, it was Hogan, Snead and Nelson in a triumvirate mix, and in the '20s and '30s we had Hagen and Sarazen.
While dominance is the magic ingredient that can break a sport out of its niche, a dynamic rivalry is the next best elixir.
Dustin Johnson looks capable of dominating today’s game, but there’s so much proven major championship talent on his heels. It’s hard to imagine him consistently fending off all these challengers, but it’s the fending that would captivate us.
Johnson vs. McIlroy would be a fireworks show. So would Johnson vs. Thomas, or Thomas vs. Day or McIlroy vs. Rahm or Fowler vs. Koepka ... or any of those combinations.
Spieth is a wild card that intrigues.
While he’s not a short hitter, he isn’t the power player these other guys are, but his iron game, short game, putter and moxie combine to make him the most compelling challenger of all. His resolve, resilience and resourcefulness in the final round of his British Open victory at Royal Birkdale make him the most interesting amalgam of skill since Lee Trevino.
Woods vs. any of them? Well, if we get that, we promise never to ask for anything more.
So, if that cosmic calendar up there isn’t filled, how about it? How about a year of rivalries to remember?
McIlroy: 2018 may be my busiest season ever
With his return to competition just days away, Rory McIlroy believes that the 2018 season may be the most action packed of his pro career.
The 28-year-old has not teed it up since the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in early October, a hiatus he will end at this week's Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. It will be the start of a busy spring for the Ulsterman, who will also play next week in Dubai before a run of six PGA Tour events leading up to the Masters.
Speaking to the U.K.'s Telegraph, McIlroy confirmed that he will also make a return trip to the British Masters in October and plans to remain busy over the next 12 months.
"I might play more times this year than any before. I played 28 times in 2008 and I'm on track to beat that," McIlroy said. "I could get to 30 (events), depending on where I'm placed in the Race to Dubai. But I'll see."
McIlroy's ambitious plan comes in the wake of a frustrating 2017 campaign, when he injured his ribs in his first start and twice missed chunks of time in an effort to recover. He failed to win a worldwide event and finished the year ranked outside the top 10, both of which had not happened since 2008.
But having had more than three months to get his body and swing in shape, McIlroy is optimistic heading into the first of what he hopes will be eight starts in the 12 weeks before he drives down Magnolia Lane.
"I've worked hard on my short game and I'm probably feeling better with the putter than I ever have," McIlroy said. "I've had a lot of time to concentrate on everything and it all feels very good and a long way down the road."
What's in the Bag: Sony Open winner Kizzire
Patton Kizzire earned his second PGA Tour victory by winning a six-hole playoff at the Sony Open in Hawaii. Take a look inside his bag.
Driver: Titleist 917D3 (10.5 degrees), with Fujikura Atmos Black 6 X shaft
Fairway Wood: Titleist 917F2 (16.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Blue 95 TX shaft
Hybrid: Titleist 913H (19 degrees), with UST Mamiya AXIV Core 100 Hybrid shaft
Irons: Titleist 718 T-MB (4), 718 CB (5-6), 718 MB (7-9), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts
Wedges: Titleist SM7 prototype (47, 52, 56, 60 degrees), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts
Putter: Scotty Cameron GoLo Tour prototype
Ball: Titleist Pro V1x