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Ko playing second fiddle to caddie at Pinehurst

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PINEHURST, N.C. – Lydia Ko may be ranked No. 3 in the world, but this week at Pinehurst she doesn’t even think she’s as popular as the man toting her bag.

Mike “Fluff” Cowan has caddied on the PGA Tour for decades, guiding Tiger Woods to his win at the Masters in 1997 and looping for Jim Furyk since 1999. After helping Furyk to a tie for 12th at the U.S. Open last weekend, Cowan has remained at Pinehurst and this week will caddie for Ko in the U.S. Women’s Open.

“I think personally he’s more famous than me,” Ko said Wednesday. “I was walking down with David Leadbetter, Mike and I, and a lot of people were asking for their autographs.”

Ko has yet to find a stable caddie since turning pro in November, and explained that the union with Cowan came about after discussions with her management agency, IMG. It will be Cowan’s first foray into women’s golf since he caddied for Michelle Wie at Kingsmill in 2004, and Ko has already begun to learn from the 66-year-old as the two get set to take on Pinehurst No. 2.

“Obviously, you want to have an uphill putt, so that kind of led to him saying, ‘If you’re between two clubs, you’d rather hit the shorter one,’” Ko said. “That way there is a bigger opportunity, where I would be putting up towards the hole rather than giving myself [a putt where] it might be pin-high, but it might be where it breaks the most.”

Ko and Cowan hadn’t met before the two arrived to Pinehurst, but despite an age difference of nearly five decades, the 17-year-old Ko says their budding partnership has gotten off to a strong start.

“He’s obviously a very experienced guy, and also a very nice person,” she said.