Watson Thinks Caddies Miss Edwards Too

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WEST DES MOINES, Iowa -- So far, Tom Watson has avoided any embarrassing slip of the tongue.
 
He hasn't looked at a putt, turned to his caddie and asked, 'Bruce, what do you think?' It certainly would be understandable if he did.
 
'I haven't done that,' Watson said Wednesday. 'But I think it.'
 
Six weeks have passed since Bruce Edwards, Watson's friend of 30 years and longtime caddie, died after a yearlong battle with Lou Gehrig's disease. Edwards remained lively and upbeat even as the disease ravaged his body, and Watson believes the impact of his struggle and death is still being felt.
 
'I almost feel as if there's a little bit of a melancholy pall out here among the caddies,' said Watson, who's warming up for the Allianz Championship, a Champions Tour event that starts Friday. 'Bruce was such a pillar to them.
 
'If a caddie came in and complained a little bit, he could always say, 'Hey, forget it. You know your guy's a complainer. Forget it.' He'd lift them up. Now he's not there. He's not there to lift up their problems.'
 
He's not there for Watson, either -- at least in the way he used to be there.
 
'I try to keep the same spirit,' Watson said. 'But it's not the same without him on the bag.'
 
Jeff Burrell caddies for Watson now. And wouldn't you know it, that arrangement happened because of Edwards.
 
Watson was visiting Edwards in January and that was the first time he realized that Edwards would never be on his bag again. As they talked, Edwards asked Watson who'd be caddying for him. 'I said, 'Who do you think I should (get)?' I just put it right back on him,' Watson said. 'And he said Jeff Burrell. I said fine. I called Jeff and said, 'Jeff, do you want a job?' And he said, 'Sure.''
 
Burrell has caddied for years, including stints with Curtis Strange and Andy North. He knows courses. He knows clubs. Still, it isn't the same for Watson. How could it be?
 
'It's just like a new wife, you might say. There's a difference,' Watson said. 'Jeff Burrell's been out there. He's a professional. He knows what to do. He's good at his job. But he's different from Bruce, as you might expect.'
 
Because of Edwards, Watson has become involved in numerous fund-raising efforts for research into amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS. He hears frequently from people who have relatives with the disease. Watson writes back, though he often struggles to find right words.
 
'The thing about the disease is it creates desperation,' Watson said. 'There's no vine to hang on to (and) climb up out of the hole. Nobody can throw you that rope. You're in that deep hole and there's no rope to climb up. You're stuck.
 
'The kids whose parents are dying of it write letters. The parents whose kids are dying of it write letters. It's very difficult for me to give them any consolation -- the finality of the disease. But I try.'
 
Edwards died the morning the Masters started. Watson played but missed the cut. He has played a limited Champions Tour schedule -- five events, one victory -- but will get more active in the weeks ahead, including appearances in the PGA Championship and British Open on the regular tour.
 
Watson is playing in the 4-year-old Allianz tournament for the first time. He comes in after tinkering with his swing.
 
'I've been struggling with the swing, especially with the driver,' he said. 'I haven't been driving the ball very straight. I think my adjustment was the right one and I'll keep the ball in play better this week than I did the last couple of tournaments I
played.
 
'This is the beginning of the real concentrated stretch of golf for me. I'm going to put the pedal to the metal and get it going again.'
 
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - Allianz Championship
     
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