Those Who Can Do Those Who Kannt Caddie

By Kraig KannOctober 30, 2007, 4:00 pm
ChildrenLAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- For 12-plus years Ive been covering golf and the PGA TOUR for GOLF CHANNEL. This week, thanks to a well-timed phone call from a friend back in August, Im seeing the PGA TOUR from a whole new perspective.
 
And for a short time on my first day on the bag, I was worried Id be late.
 
Im caddying for PGA TOUR professional Jay Williamson this week at the Childrens Miracle Network Classic at Disney World.
 
Jay Williamson and Kraig Kann
Jay and Kraig survived a short, but rainy day together Tuesday.
Williamson has been a buddy for a good number of years. We met on TOUR with mutual St. Louis connections. Both Jay and my wife hail from St. Louis and we both have a pretty strong passion for Missouri Tiger sports. Ive seen his career take more than a few turns, and this year has been the most interesting of them all. After starting his year without fully-exempt status, Williamson set foot on the Nationwide Tour in hopes of a return. And thats what happened.
 
Williamson won earlier this year on the Nationwide Tour in Ft. Smith, Ark. (his first PGA TOUR-sanctioned victory) and then parlayed a PGA TOUR sponsors exemption in Hartford at The Travelers into a near title, losing to Hunter Mahan in a playoff. Since then, Jays been compiling sponsors exemptions and solid finishes into a bid for the Top 125 ' which hes all but secured despite sitting near the bubble number.
 
Back to the phone call.
 
Williamson and I have long talked (jokingly at times) about me looping for him somewhere when it was practical. And this week seemed like the perfect opportunity. Jay called in August with the offer to caddy ' provided he earn a sponsors exemption into this weeks field ' with hopes of adding some levity to a very stressful year.
 
The GOLF CHANNEL deemed it a worthy opportunity ' allowing me a break from the Sprint Pre/Post Game schedule this week, for which Jay and I are quite thankful. And for those of you wondering ' yes, we have an agreement about how Ill be compensated at weeks end: plane tickets to an upcoming Mizzou Tiger game might be my favorite perk.
 
So today it began ' and not like most caddy-pro relationships in a given week. This morning, I met him on site at Disneys Palm and Magnolia Courses after I took my three kids to school.
 
And how about this for some stress: I hopped on Interstate-4 only to come upon an accident which forced traffic to a standstill for the better part of 15 minutes. And once that cleared and I found my way onto Disney property, another accident slowed traffic again ' making my 9:00 a.m. or 9:30 a.m. meeting time a bit shaky. Truth be told, I arrived on time to Jay saying youre early.
 
After Jay registered for the tournament, I actually registered in the caddie area ' just like the real caddies. We met with Tournament Director Kevin Weikel, who greeted us with some kind words of encouragement and then I sat near Jays bag while he did what so many TOUR pros do ' get a massage in the fitness trailer.
 
In between Jays trip to the equipment trailer to get a few adjustments made on a TaylorMade driver, we spent on-and-off time on the range ' catching some grief from Jays fellow PGA TOUR pros and some ribbing from caddies who were actually quite supportive. We grabbed lunch with Chris DiMarco and played a few practice holes with young gun Kyle Reifers.
 
Let me make this totally clear this week is a great opportunity. I get to see the PGA TOUR up close and inside the ropes while being a part of someone elses workspace. In this case its a good friend ' whos made me feel quite comfortable. But Im taking this quite seriously.
 
I actually caddied for Steve Flesch at Colonial the year he won the tournament, but that was only in the pro-am. This is the real deal; and I realize its completely different.
 
We talked about grain on the greens, what yardage he wants and when he wants it, who pulls the flagstick, where to stand when hitting from the tee and the fairway, how to properly read the wind ' things like that.
 
Biggest advice: answer questions when asked and dont offer information. Be prepared to offer information, however. The key is: be prepared. Jays a pro; he knows what hes doing and realizes hes going to handle more than he would on a given week. Actually, yardages and being prepared dont scare me ' its the deadline Im under when its our turn that has me a bit nervous.
 
We worked from 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. and Im glad Ive got one more practice round left, before we tee it up for real on Thursday alongside J.P. Hayes and two amateurs for the first two rounds.
 
Wednesday will be much of the same, probably a few more holes than we played today. It rained today and tonight, which will make things interesting on Wednesday for two courses that are already very wet.
 
Stay tuned, Ill share more details Wednesday night, and will be doing a daily diary throughout the week.
 
Email your thoughts to Kraig Kann
 
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    Fleetwood flawless en route to Abu Dhabi lead

    By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 2:06 pm

    New year, same results for Tommy Fleetwood.

    The reigning Race to Dubai champ picked up where he left off in the opening round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, carding a bogey-free 66 during which the Englishman found all 18 greens in regulation. At 6 under, he shares the lead with Japan's Hideto Tanihara and sits one shot clear of five other players.

    "Very stress-free. Played really well from start to finish," Fleetwood said. "Felt like I did what you need to do around this golf course, which is drive it well, hit your irons solid. You can't really be too greedy a lot of the time, and then sort of my pace putting was really good. So basically just did what you need to do to get a good score around this golf course, and I got one."


    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


    Fleetwood shined in a marquee grouping that included world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy, as he birdied three holes on each nine. This is his first worldwide start since a T-3 finish at the Hero World Challenge.

    It was at this event a year ago that Fleetwood sparked a career campaign, edging Johnson and Pablo Larrazabal for the win. He added another win at the French Open in the summer to go along with a pair of runner-up results and a T-4 finish at the U.S. Open, all of which helped him capture the European Tour's season-long title.

    Fleetwood's sudden success in Abu Dhabi serves as a microcosm for his career resurgence. Prior to last year's victory, he had missed the cut in four of his five other trips to this event.

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    Sergio starts season with 66 in Singapore

    By Associated PressJanuary 18, 2018, 12:56 pm

    SINGAPORE – Sergio Garcia opened his season with a 5-under 66 and a share of the clubhouse lead on Thursday in the first round of the weather-interrupted Singapore Open.

    Playing his first tournament of the year, the Masters champion rebounded after making an early bogey to collect four birdies and an eagle at the Sentosa Golf Club.

    He was later joined by American qualifier Kurt Kitayama in the clubhouse lead. Still on the course, Tirawat Kaewsiribandit was at 6 under through 16 holes when play was suspended for the day because of the threat of lightning.

    Louis Oosthuizen, the 2010 Open champion, was at 5 under through 16 holes when he also had to stop his round because of the weather.

    Of the players who did finish their opening rounds, only three were within two strokes of Garcia and Kitayama. One of them was Casey O'Toole, who aced the par-3 second with a 7-iron.



    The 38-year-old Garcia dropped his only shot of the day on the par-4 15th, his sixth hole after teeing off on the back nine, when he missed the fairway and was unable to make par. But he made amends when he birdied the par-3 17th and then eagled the par-5 18th to go out in 33.

    ''I was 1 over after (the) seventh but it didn't feel like I was playing badly,'' said Garcia, who made birdies on each of the two par 5s and one of the par 3s on the second nine. ''But then I hit two greats in a row for holes 17 and 18. I got a birdie-eagle there, so that settled me a little bit and I could play solid in the back nine and it was a great round.''

    Garcia made the shortlist for the Laureus Sports Awards in the Breakthrough of the Year category after claiming his first major at Augusta National last year and is hoping for more success this season.

    He credits the Singapore Open as having played a part in toughening him up for his Masters win because he opted to start his 2017 campaign in the stifling humidity of Southeast Asia to prepare himself for the bigger tournaments ahead.

    Although he finished tied for 11th in Singapore, Garcia won the Dubai Desert Classic the next week and was in peak form when he won the Masters two months later.

    Kitayama only secured his place in the $1 million event on Monday by finishing at the top of the qualifying competition, but he made a strong start with birdies on three of his first five holes. The 25-year-old Thai was 6 under through 13 holes but spoiled his otherwise flawless round with a bogey on his last.

    ''I started with a birdie and I just let it roll from there. I had some good tee shots, which I think, is the biggest thing for this course,'' Kitayama said. ''I'm a little tired, but I'm hanging in there. Whenever I have time off, I'll try not to think too much about golf.''

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    13-year-old beats DJ in closest-to-the-pin contest

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 18, 2018, 12:26 pm

    Dustin Johnson didn’t just get beat by Tommy Fleetwood and Rory McIlroy on Day 1 of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

    Even a 13-year-old got the best of the world No. 1.

    Oscar Murphy teed off on the 177-yard 15th hole as part of the tournament’s Beat the Pro challenge during the opening round. The Northern Irishman, one of the HSBC’s Future Falcons, carved a 3-wood toward a back-right pin, about 25 feet away, closer than both Johnson and Fleetwood.

    “An unbelievable shot,” Fleetwood said afterward, “and me and Rory both said, ‘We don’t have that in our locker.’”



    Johnson still made par on the hole, but he mixed four birdies with four bogeys Thursday for an even-par 72 that left him six shots back of Fleetwood and Hideto Tanihara after the opening round.

    Johnson, who tied for second here a year ago, is coming off a dominant performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions, where he won by eight shots to strengthen his lead atop the world rankings. 

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    McIlroy 'really pleased' with opening 69 in Abu Dhabi

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 18, 2018, 12:10 pm

    It was an auspicious 2018 debut for Rory McIlroy.

    Playing alongside world No. 1 Dustin Johnson for his first round since October, McIlroy missed only one green and shot a bogey-free 69 at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. McIlroy is three shots back of reigning Race to Dubai champion Tommy Fleetwood, who played in the same group as McIlroy and Johnson, and Hideto Tanihara.

    Starting on the back nine at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, McIlroy began with 11 consecutive pars before birdies on Nos. 3, 7 and 8.


    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


    “I was excited to get going,” he told reporters afterward. “The last couple of months have been really nice in terms of being able to concentrate on things I needed to work on in my game and health-wise. I feel like I’m the most prepared for a season that I’ve ever been, but it was nice to get back out there.”

    Fleetwood, the defending champion, raced out to another lead while McIlroy and Johnson, who shot 72, just tried to keep pace.

    “Tommy played very well and I was just trying to hang onto his coattails for most of the round, so really pleased – bogey-free 69, I can’t really complain,” McIlroy said.

    This was his first competitive round in more than three months, since a tie for 63rd at the Dunhill Links. He is outside the top 10 in the world ranking for the first time since 2014.