Dustin Johnson (Joe LaCava), Adam Scott (Steve Williams) and Martin Kaymer (Christian Donald) all have notable caddies on their bags for the 111th U.S. Open. Which caddie will have the biggest impact this week among the three? Rex Hoggard and Jason Sobel weigh in.
By Rex Hoggard:
Adam Scott and Steve Williams promise to be the marquee working group at Congressional while Dustin Johnson and Joe LaCava have already shown plenty of promise, but based on pure potential the new player-caddie tandem of Martin Kaymer and Christian Donald could prove pivotal at the U.S. Open.
Whatever influence a caddie ultimately has on a tournament’s outcome, from those skeptics who consider a looper little more than a trolley with legs to those who liken the relationship to that of a pitcher and catcher, the game’s most-demanding test is decided in the margins, unforeseen details to all except a good caddie.
The skeptics should look no further than last year’s U.S. Open and the moment that got away from Johnson and then-caddie Bobby Brown. No one ever wins the “what if” game, but it’s difficult to imagine LaCava letting Johnson race through those first few holes on Sunday at Pebble Beach.
In Donald Kaymer has a proven winner and, perhaps more importantly, a caddie that’s been making the rounds for nearly a decade. Donald looped for his brother, world No. 1 Luke, from 2002 until 2009 and to two Tour titles.
The German already has one major and he’s taken a large step toward his second Grand Keepsake by adding Donald to his team.
By Jason Sobel:
If there’s one player who can most benefit from an experienced caddie, it’s Dustin Johnson.
There’s no arguing that Johnson owns as much talent as anyone in the game. His power game and distance control are each terrific, putting him on the verge of superstardom.
A superstar caddie may make the difference.
Johnson now has Fred Couples’ longtime looper Joe LaCava on the bag, a move which should help minimize his deficiencies. For example, he is currently ranked 152nd on the PGA Tour in scrambling and 65th in bogey average. With a more experienced bagman, DJ won’t become a different player, but will likely turn more bogeys into pars, a key ingredient to unlocking the secret to success.
And of course, there’s the two momentous mistakes at least partly attributed to former Johnson caddie Bobby Brown. At last year’s PGA Championship, Johnson lost a chance to enter the playoff when he grounded his club in a bunker on the 72nd hole and at this year’s Northern Trust Open, he was docked a two-stroke penalty when he showed up late for his opening-round tee time.
That’s not to say Brown – now on the bag for Kyle Stanley – isn’t a worthy caddie, but LaCava has been there and done that, serving for years alongside one of the game’s best.
With his new teammate, expect big things for Johnson on the horizon.