Caddie Scott takes blame for Bubba's blowup

By Jason SobelJune 24, 2013, 2:00 pm

Following a public scolding from Bubba Watson that was picked up by television microphones during a triple bogey that dropped him from contention at the Travelers Championship on Sunday, caddie Ted Scott took responsibility for a poor club selection.

'I convinced him to hit the wrong club,' Scott told PGATour.com. 'I 100 percent take responsibility for it. It's totally my fault. I got in the way of the painter on that one.'

For his part, Watson later chalked it up to a team error.

'Did we do the yardage wrong? Was it a gust of wind? We were just trying to figure out what was going on,' he said . 'We planned to do one thing and didn't do it. We mis-clubbed is all.'

With the entire situation caught by cameras, it turned into a juicy subplot to a tournament that Ken Duke would win in a playoff over Chris Stroud.

Holding a one-stroke lead on the par-3 16th tee, Watson was between clubs when Scott suggested he hit the 9-iron instead of the 8-iron. He did, but a gust of wind pushed the shot back into water hazard that fronts the green. Within seconds, Watson audibly voiced his displeasure with Scott’s selection.

After his third shot from the drop zone ran through the back portion of the green, Watson turned to Scott and said in an accusatory tone, 'So you're telling me that's the right yardage?'

When he finally finished up, carding a triple bogey and falling not only from the lead, but from title contention, Watson could be heard saying, “There’s just no reason for me to show up.”

With the entire series of actions televised, the majority of observers blamed Bubba for deflecting the blame and sided with Scott, contending that it’s not the caddie who hit the shots.

However, Scott himself wasn’t part of that majority, after the round taking the blame for the club selection.

If nothing else, this situation should bring to light the player-caddie dynamic.

Yes, the relationship exists as employer-employee, but ask any professional golfer and you’re more likely to hear the words “teammate” and “partnership” than anything regarding subservience or inferiority. For a few decades now, the game’s top caddies have viewed their profession as a career, many working in forms of swing instructor and mental guru rather than just someone carrying the clubs.

Then again, that relationship is still nebulous when compared with those of other sports. Was Watson’s outburst toward Scott analogous to an NFL coach berating his quarterback after a poor throw? Or the quarterback berating a receiver after a poor route? Those are two obviously different dynamics, but the answer could speak volumes about the veracity of claims that the player was completely in the wrong in this situation.

To fully understand the dynamic between Watson and Scott, to realize what caused the player to berate his caddie on the course Sunday and why afterward the caddie took full responsibility, we should look back at the history of their relationship.

Three years ago, a blubbering Bubba won his first career title at the Travelers Championship. Through tears, he discussed what had previously held him back.

“When I first got out here, my problem was, ‘Why can't I win? Why can't I do this?’” he said at the time. “My caddie stayed with me for four years even though I kept being mad and (upset) on the golf course.”

His caddie was Scott, who not long before the breakthrough victory had offered an ultimatum: If Watson didn’t improve his on-course attitude, he was leaving. Just like that – he’d walk away from the bag of an insanely talented player who hits it longer than just about anyone else on Tour.

That served as an eye-opener for Watson, who worked on his behavior and retained Scott on the bag, as they’d go on to win a Masters title together. It should also serve as important background information in the wake of what was a one-sided on-course argument that received plenty of attention.

There’s quite a history between Watson and Scott. It was easy for observers to simply hear Watson’s words toward the caddie on the 16th hole and come to a conclusion, but it’s just as important to understand that relationship and understand what they had to say about it after the round.

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Hadwin returns to site of last year's 59

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 11:04 pm

Adam Hadwin had a career season last year, one that included shooting a 59 and winning a PGA Tour event. But those two achievements didn't occur in the same week.

While Hadwin's breakthrough victory came at the Valspar Championship in March, it was at the CareerBuilder Challenge in January when he first made headlines with a third-round 59 at La Quinta Country Club. Hadwin took a lead into the final round as a result, but he ultimately couldn't keep pace with Hudson Swafford.

He went on to earn a spot at the Tour Championship, and Hadwin made his first career Presidents Cup appearance in October. Now the Canadian returns to Palm Springs, eager to improve on last year's result and hoping to earn a spot in the final group for a third straight year after a T-6 finish in 2016.

"A lot of good memories here in the desert," Hadwin told reporters. "I feel very comfortable here, very at home. Lots of Canadians, so it's always fun to play well in front of those crowds and hopefully looking forward to another good week."

Hadwin's 59 last year was somewhat overshadowed, both by the fact that he didn't win the event and that it came just one week after Justin Thomas shot a 59 en route to victory at the Sony Open. But he's still among an exclusive club of just eight players to have broken 60 in competition on Tour and he's eager to get another crack at La Quinta on Saturday.

"If I'm in the same position on 18, I'm gunning for 58 this year," Hadwin said, "not playing safe for 59."

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Rahm: If I thought like Phil, I could not hit a shot

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 10:39 pm

When it comes to Jon Rahm and Phil Mickelson, there are plenty of common bonds. Both starred at Arizona State, both are now repped by the same agency and Rahm's former college coach and agent, Tim Mickelson, now serves full-time as his brother's caddie.

Those commonalities mean the two men have played plenty of practice rounds together, but the roads quickly diverge when it comes to on-course behavior. Rahm is quick, fiery and decisive; Mickelson is one of the most analytical players on Tour. And as Rahm told reporters Wednesday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, those differences won't end anytime soon.

"I don't need much. 'OK, it's like 120 (yards), this shot, right," Rahm said. "And then you have Phil, it's like, 'Oh, this shot, the moisture, this going on, this is like one mile an hour wind sideways, it's going to affect it one yard. This green is soft, this trajectory. They're thinking, and I'm like, 'I'm lost.' I'm like, 'God if I do that thought process, I could not hit a golf shot.'"


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The tactics may be more simplified, but Rahm can't argue with the results. While Mickelson is in the midst of a winless drought that is approaching five years, Rahm won three times around the world last year and will defend a PGA Tour title for the first time next week at Torrey Pines.

Both men are in the field this week in Palm Springs, where Mickelson will make his 2018 debut with what Rahm fully expects to be another dose of high-level analytics for the five-time major winner with his brother on the bag.

"It's funny, he gets to the green and then it's the same thing. He's very detail-oriented," Rahm said of Mickelson. "I'm there listening and I'm like, 'Man, I hope we're never paired together for anything because I can't think like this. I would not be able to play golf like that. But for me to listen to all that is really fun."

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DJ changes tune on golf ball distance debate

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 9:16 pm

World No. 1 Dustin Johnson is already one of the longest hitters in golf, so he's not looking for any changes to be made to golf ball technology - despite comments from him that hinted at just such a notion two months ago.

Johnson is in the Middle East this week for the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, and he told BBC Sport Wednesday that he wouldn't be in favor of making changes to the golf ball in order to remedy some of the eye-popping distances players are hitting the ball with ever-increasing frequency.

"It's not like we are dominating golf courses," Johnson said. "When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy? I don't really understand what all the debate is about because it doesn't matter how far it goes; it is about getting it in the hole."

Johnson's rhetorical question might be answered simply by looking back at his performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions earlier this month, an eight-shot romp that featured a tee shot on the 433-yard 12th hole that bounded down a slope to within inches of the hole.

Johnson appeared much more willing to consider a reduced-distance ball option at the Hero World Challenge in November, when he sat next to tournament host Tiger Woods and supported Woods' notion that the ball should be addressed.

"I don't mind seeing every other professional sport, they play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball," Johnson said. "In baseball, the guys that are bigger and stronger, they can hit a baseball a lot further than the smaller guys. ... I think there should be some kind of an advantage for guys who work on hitting it far and getting that speed that's needed, so having a ball, like the same ball that everyone plays, there's going to be, you're going to have more of an advantage."

Speaking Wednesday in Abu Dhabi, Johnson stood by the notion that regardless of whether the rules change or stay the same, he plans to have a leg up on the competition.

"If the ball is limited then it is going to limit everyone," he said. "I'm still going to hit it that much further than I guess the average Tour player."

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LPGA lists April date for new LA event

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 17, 2018, 8:18 pm

The LPGA’s return to Los Angeles will come with the new Hugel-JTBC Open being played at Wilshire Country Club April 19-22, the tour announced Wednesday.

When the LPGA originally released its schedule, it listed the Los Angeles event with the site to be announced at a later date.

The Hugel-JTBC Open will feature a 144-player field and a $1.5 million purse. It expands the tour’s West Coast swing, which will now be made up of four events in California in March and April.

The LPGA last played in Los Angeles in 2005. Wilshire Country Club hosted The Office Depot in 2001, with Annika Sorenstam winning there.