Caddiegate at the Womens Open

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NORTH PLAINS, Ore. -- The father of a golf prodigy went to the Portland area to caddie for his kid, but a fight broke out and he turned over the job to someone else.
 
'I was tired,' Earl Woods said Monday evening, recalling the one time he worked for Tiger in the finals of the 1994 Pacific Northwest Amateur.
 
'I would be walking along, carrying his bag, and with those long legs of his, he was gone,' he said. 'He'd say, 'Hurry up, Dad.' I said, 'Are you at your ball yet? No. Are you ready for another club? No. When you are, I'll be there.'
 
'We fought like that all day.'
 
Woods was 8 up after the first 18 holes when his dad decided to hire a local caddie for the afternoon round. It didn't last long, as Woods disposed of Ted Snavely, 11 and 10, at Royal Oaks in Vancouver, Wash., just across the river from Portland.
 
At least this tale had a happy ending.
 
That wasn't the case this year at the U.S. Women's Open, where golf's most heralded teenager became the center of attention at Pumpkin Ridge for all the wrong reasons.
 
By the time 13-year-old Michelle Wie finished her first Women's Open in a tie for 39th, her prodigious drives had become lost in a bizarre series of developments:
 
-- Her father accused Danielle Ammaccapane of purposely bumping his daughter after a long list of etiquette violations in the opening round.
 
-- The next day, B.J. Wie retracted his allegations.
 
-- The Wies said Ammaccapane, 37, berated the teenager in the scoring tent Thursday, telling her, 'You're the worst kid I've ever seen play golf. You'll never make it to the LPGA. I will make money. You will not.'
 
-- Ammaccapane's only comment Friday was that if B.J. Wie was going to say bad things about her, 'He's going to get an ear full from my father.'
 
-- B.J. Wie said Ralph Ammaccapane threatened him the next morning.
 
-- Swing coach Gary Gilchrist caddied for Wie in the final round, and the father said his days toting the bag might be numbered.
 
'I fired myself,' B.J. Wie said. 'I've caused too much trouble.'
 
But before leaving Pumpkin Ridge, he predicted more problems down the road.
 
'There were how many amateurs this week, 21? And 14 teenagers?' Wie said. 'Next year, there will be more. And there will be other fathers causing the problems.'
 
Banning parents as caddies is not an easy solution.
 
Not everyone can afford $1,000 or more for a real caddie, although the Wies have managed to finance a year of professional golf for their daughter -- six LPGA events, two of them majors, and two tournaments later this summer against the men on the Nationwide and Canadian tours.
 
Blend teenagers with players making a living on the links, stir in the unwritten rules of being a caddie, add doting parents, and it's a recipe for disaster.
 
'The whole dynamic is a sociologist's dream,' USGA executive director David Fay said.
 
Still, this version of Caddiegate could have been avoided.
 
The USGA likes to get cute with its pairings, which is why Wie, Ammaccapane and Tracy Hanson (all Women's Amateur Public Links champions) wound up together for two rounds.
 
Overlooked were rumors that B.J. Wie was getting in the way of other players -- he's a college professor, not a caddie -- and Ammaccapane's reputation for having a short fuse.
 
Five years ago, Peter Kuchar was leading the cheers for his son, Matt, and creating problems for Justin Leonard and Ernie Els in the U.S. Open at Olympic Club.
 
Leonard had to hold back when asked about Kuchar's father.
 
'You understand why I can't answer that question, right?' Leonard said, realizing he had nothing to gain by offering even a mild complaint.
 
Ditto for Heather Daly-Donofrio, who gently tried to coach 13-year-old Morgan Pressel where to walk on the greens during the 2001 Women's Open.
 
'Whatever,' Pressel snapped back.
 
Ammaccapane has never been known for her charm. While her complaints were valid, her tone -- which Fay described as closer to a drill sergeant than Aunt Bee -- was out of line.
 
'Would she have talked like that to someone else, someone who is 40 years old?' Fay wondered. 'Probably not, because she might have gotten a fist in the mouth.'
 
At week's end, B.J. Wie said his only regret was talking to reporters.
 
As he walked up the 18th fairway Sunday afternoon, watching his daughter finish a contentious week with a birdie for 76, he quietly said, 'Maybe it's time to let her go.'
 
Earl Woods would toast to that.
 
From the time Tiger played his first professional event as a 16-year-old at the Nissan Open, his father made sure he had a real caddie when playing in the big leagues.
 
'I knew better than to caddie for him,' Earl Woods said. 'I felt it important that he had the correct support inside the ropes, and that was a professional caddie.'
 
The father gave his son one other piece of advice.
 
'When you're on the golf course,' Earl Woods said he told Tiger at an early age, 'you're the boss.'
 

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