The Me-Me caddie

By Jason SobelAugust 8, 2011, 5:42 pm

AKRON, Ohio – Four years ago, I spent a week caddying on the Nationwide Tour, which essentially makes me an expert on all things bag-toting.

I'll spare you the gory details, other than to mention that my man Roland Thatcher and I were on the leaderboard at one point, only to find ourselves slamming the trunk on Friday evening after missing the cut.

Even so, I learned plenty that week. Simple math isn't so simple. Never leave your player's golf bag in a place where it can double as a target.

And two guys without a weekend tee time can consume an awful lot of pizza and beer while watching multiple football games.

I gleaned some knowledge from my fellow loopers that week, too. Their main piece of collective advice was that I try to refrain from becoming one of the We-He caddies. You know the type. They sound like this: 'We started out with a birdie on the first, but he made a bogey. We battled back, then he made some mistakes late in the round.'

We-He caddies have been around since professionals started playing the game for money, but for perhaps the first time in the history of the profession, we witnessed a Me-Me caddie Sunday at the conclusion of the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.

For the four people around the world who still don't know the history behind the story, here's the par-3 version: Steve Williams caddied for Tiger Woods for 12 years. They won 13 majors together. While Woods was injured this summer, Williams started working for Adam Scott. Woods didn't like that and fired him. So Williams started working for Scott full-time.

It was golf's equivalent of a mob boss ordering his consigliere whacked, only to watch him get saved by another family.

There was quite a role-reversal for Williams' image, too. Long known as the sullen, obtuse bodyguard for Woods who never saw a camera he didn't want to heave into a water hazard, the caddie transformed into a sympathetic figure overnight. He became just another poor schlub whose company decided to pursue other options and summarily dismissed him from his assignment. He was one of us.

The support for Williams from the Firestone Country Club galleries was tangible throughout the week, but never more so than on the final hole.

With a three-stroke lead, he watched his man Scott pipe a tee shot into the fairway and the two began their victory march to the green.

Meanwhile, the swelling, frenzied crowd grew louder and louder. The fans weren't cheering for Scott, though. It's not that they were rooting against him; it's that nearly all audible accolades were foisted upon the man carrying the bag. A former bully from the dark side, Williams was for the first time being accepted as a beloved character.

In an unprecedented bit of hilarity, before Scott made a clinching 5-foot birdie putt, the caddie had to silence the gallery from yelling for himself. When the ball dropped into the bottom of the cup, Williams pumped his fist a celebratory gesture not unlike that of his former employer and hugged his player.

Redemption. Vindication.

Within seconds, CBS commentator David Feherty sidled up to Williams, put the microphone to his lips and asked what this win meant to him.

“I’ve been caddying for 33 years and this has been the best week of my life,” said Williams, who has also caddied for Greg Norman, Raymond Floyd, Peter Thomson and Ian Baker-Finch. “I’m not joking. I’m never, ever going to forget this week. It’s the greatest week of my life.”

Uh-oh. The invention of the Me-Me caddie.

He talked about his 33-year caddying career. About his record as a front-runner. Even offered a comparison with his moonlighting gig as a race-car driver.

During the short interview, though, Williams never showed any humility for his role in the victory. He never acknowledged the irony in a caddie getting more attention than the player. And most importantly, he never mentioned Scott. Didn't say he was thankful for the opportunity to work with him nor did he commend him for such stellar play.

Instead, Williams ensured that he would be the biggest story on this day, rather than deflecting all glory to the man who finished atop the leaderboard.

The result was that the sheer delight from the hordes of fans screaming his name on the course never transcended to those watching at home on television. In person, Williams was a conquering hero. In living rooms and 19th holes around the world, he was an arrogant scene-stealer, reveling in the attention and taking all the credit for his player's victory.

Caddies often garner too much credit for a player's success and shoulder too much blame for the failures. That's also a fitting metaphor for how Williams' scenario unfolded. Those behind the ropes heaped too much praise on him for the victory; those watching on TV issued too much blame for his lack of grace.

The truth rests somewhere in between. It shouldn't go unnoticed that Scott's first title in more than a year coincided with Williams' first week as a full-time employee. Nor should it be ignored that the caddie used this victory as a forum to promote his own agenda, which can be summarized thusly: 'I don't need you, Tiger.'

The fact that general reaction in the hours after what Williams referred to as 'my 145th victory' has been negative speaks to the power of media and common sentiment toward the role of caddie.

More than anything else, though, it's about Steve Williams and how the Me-Me caddie will never win friends and influence people.

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Watch: Tiger throws dart, pours in birdie at 8

By Golf Channel DigitalMarch 18, 2018, 6:31 pm

Starting Sunday five off the lead, Tiger Woods teed off his final round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational with a laced 2-iron and a par at No. 1.

Woods hit the green at the par-3 second but left himself a 50-foot birdie putt and a 6-footer to save par, which we walked in.

A two-putt 4 at the par-5 fourth gave Woods his first birdie of the day and moved him to 8 under for the week. Apparently energized, Tiger pulled driver at the short par-4 fifth and unleashed this violent swing.

A pitch from the thick rough hit a sprinkler head and stopped on the apron, leading to this birdie try, which fortunately hit the pin but unfortunately didn't fall.

Looking to pick up another stroke - or two - at the par-5 sixth, Woods took his drive 317 yards over the water and hit this second shot from 227 yards to 13 feet, leading to another two-putt birdie when his eagle try burned the right edge.

Returning to his trusty 2-iron, Tiger found the fairway at par-4 eighth and then threw this dart from 176 yards to 6 feet and rolled in his third birdie putt of the day to move to 10 under.

(More coming...)

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Tiger Tracker: Arnold Palmer Invitational

By Tiger TrackerMarch 18, 2018, 5:00 pm

Tiger Woods will start Sunday five off the lead at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. How will he follow up last week's runner-up? We're tracking him at Bay Hill.

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McIlroy: Time for Tour to limit alcohol sales on course

By Ryan LavnerMarch 18, 2018, 1:50 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. – Rory McIlroy suggested Saturday that the PGA Tour might need to consider curbing alcohol sales to stop some of the abusive fan behavior that has become more prevalent at events.

McIlroy said that a fan repeatedly yelled his wife’s name (Erica) during the third round at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

“I was going to go over and have a chat with him,” McIlroy said. “I think it’s gotten a little much, to be honest. I think they need to limit the alcohol sales on the course, or they need to do something, because every week it seems like guys are complaining about it more and more.

Full-field scores from the Arnold Palmer Invitational

Arnold Palmer Invitational: Articles, photos and videos

“I know that people want to come and enjoy themselves, and I’m all for that, but sometimes when the comments get personal and people get a little bit rowdy, it can get a little much.”

This isn’t the first time that McIlroy has voiced concerns about fan behavior on Tour. Last month at Riviera, he said the rowdy spectators probably cost Tiger Woods a half-shot a round, and after two days in his featured group he had a splitting headache.

A week later, at the Honda Classic, Justin Thomas had a fan removed late in the final round.

McIlroy believes the issue is part of a larger problem, as more events try to replicate the success of the Waste Management Phoenix Open, which has one of the liveliest atmospheres on Tour.

“It’s great for that tournament, it’s great for us, but golf is different than a football game, and there’s etiquette involved and you don’t want people to be put off from bringing their kids when people are shouting stuff out,” he said. “You want people to enjoy themselves, have a good day.”

As for a solution, well, McIlroy isn’t quite sure.

“It used to be you bring beers onto the course or buy beers, but not liquor,” he said. “And now it seems like everyone’s walking around with a cocktail. I don’t know whether (the solution) is to go back to letting people walking around with beers in their hands. That’s fine, but I don’t know.”

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Confident Lincicome lurking after 54 holes at Founders

By Randy SmithMarch 18, 2018, 2:45 am

PHOENIX – Brittany Lincicome is farther back than she wanted to be going into Sunday at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup, but she’s in a good place.

She’s keeping the momentum of her season-opening Pure Silk Bahamas Classic victory going this year.

Her confidence is high.

“Last year, I won in the Bahamas, but then I didn't do anything after that,” Lincicome said. “I don't even know if I had a top 10 after my win in the Bahamas. Obviously, this year, I want to be more consistent.”

Lincicome followed up her victory in the Bahamas this year with a tie for seventh in her next start at the Honda LPGA Thailand. And now she’s right back on another leaderboard with the year’s first major championship just two weeks away. She is, by the way, a two-time winner at the ANA Inspiration.

Missy Pederson, Lincicome’s caddie, is helping her player keep that momentum going with more focus on honing in the scoring clubs.

“One of our major goals is being more consistent,” Pederson said. “She’s so talented, a once in a generation talent. I’m just trying to help out in how to best approach every golf course.”

Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

Pederson has helped Lincicome identify the clubs they’re likely to attack most with on the particular course they are playing that week, to spend more time working with those clubs in practice. It’s building confidence.

“I know the more greens we hit, and the more chances we give ourselves, the more our chances are to be in contention,” Pederson said. “Britt is not big into stats or details, so I have to figure out how to best consolidate that information, to get us exactly where we need to be.”

Lincicome’s growing comfort with clubs she can attack with is helping her confidence through a round.

“I’ve most noticed consistency in her mental game, being able to handle some of the hiccups that happen over the course of a round,” Pederson said. “Whereas before, something might get under her skin, where she might say, `That’s what always happens,’ now, it’s, `All right, I know I’m good enough to get this back.’ I try to get her in positions to hit the clubs we are really hitting well right now.”

That’s leading to a lot more birdies, fewer bogeys and more appearances on leaderboards in the start to this year.