LaCava: Going to work for Tiger a 'no-brainer'

By Doug FergusonOctober 6, 2011, 12:34 am

SAN MARTIN, Calif. – Tiger Woods offered Joe LaCava the job as his caddie, and it wasn’t a difficult decision for him.

“Why? Because he’s Tiger Woods,” LaCava said Wednesday, offering very little by way of elaboration. “Enough said. It’s a no-brainer, isn’t it? That’s my thought. It’s Tiger Woods.”

LaCava is among the top caddies on the PGA Tour, having spent most of his 25 years with Fred Couples, a former Masters champion and No. 1 player in the world who was the biggest draw during the peak of his career.

So big crowds will be nothing new for LaCava.

He just never imagined working for three players this year, the last one Woods.

Couples was playing less and urged LaCava to work for Dustin Johnson, regarded as the top young American talent. Johnson, who already has five wins and played in the final group at three majors, was runner-up at the British Open and won The Barclays. By then, however, Woods had fired Steve Williams and was looking for a replacement.

LaCava told him he was interested.

“When you say was it a hard decision, it was hard in the fact Dustin was great to me,” LaCava said after his first official day of work for Woods. “Was it hard to tell him I was leaving to go to work for Tiger? Yes. Was it hard to go to work for Tiger? No.”

But the timing made some people question the move.

Johnson already has proven to be a cash machine, with more than $12 million in earnings after four years on the Tour, and headed for another top-10 finish on the money list.

Woods is winless over the last two years, and has managed to play a full schedule only once in the last four years because of injuries or chaos in his personal life.

LaCava was asked if he was betting that Woods still had great golf ahead of him. This brought a smile of confidence.

“Of course, no question,” LaCava said. “I know he does. I’m not betting on it.”

LaCava has been around Woods often over the last 15 years, starting with practice rounds that Woods played with Couples at the Masters and U.S. Open as an amateur. LaCava was prepared to work for Woods at the 2005 Presidents Cup when Williams went home to New Zealand for the birth of his son. Couples, however, made the U.S. team and Woods hired Billy Foster for the week.

LaCava broke the news to Johnson after the Tour Championship, then came out to CordeValle for a tournament that was never on his schedule. For Woods, the Frys.com Open is his first tournament in seven weeks, and his last PGA Tour appearance this year.

There will be some adjustments, as always, but not that many.

“He’s trying to envision how far I hit the golf ball and what I would like to hear for certain numbers through bunkers or carries,” Woods said. “So he kind of got all that. And he basically said, ‘OK, just let me know what you want on each hole.’ And that’s how we kind of did it. So he got a feel for what I liked, or would like to think or see, and he’s got a good understanding of it.”

Woods is longer off the tee than Couples, shorter than Johnson.

Then again, caddies go through these adjustments all the time. Jon Yarbrough, for example, went from caddying for Morgan Pressel on the LPGA to working for Gary Woodland on the PGA Tour (with one stop in between).

The attention around Woods will not be that much different for LaCava, either.

“Back in the day, Fred had the biggest crowd,” LaCava said. “Obviously, it’s bigger today because golf is bigger. But back in the day, Fred had just as big a crowd in relation to how many people were out there.”

Woods’ pro-am group had some 300 people at CordeValle. No other group had more than a dozen.

LaCava doesn’t typically stop to give interviews, either, although he understood why all the attention on his first day at work. He is only the third full-time caddie Woods has employed in his 15 years.

“I understand it’s the first week,” LaCava said. “I don’t want to not talk to people anymore just because I work for Tiger. But at the same time, I want to fly under the radar. He’s the one hitting the golf ball. I’m just caddying for him.”

LaCava and Woods will have plenty in common when it comes to sports. LaCava is friends with Ernie Accorsi, the former general manager of the New York Giants. He still lives in Connecticut and loves all things New York – Knicks, Rangers and Yankees.

Woods is a Californian and leans toward the Lakers and Oakland Raiders, who were in Los Angeles when he was a kid.

Ive got a better team, LaCava said, referring to the Giants. I root for the Raiders now. Ive got to have an AFC team, right?

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Watch: Is this the up-and-down of the year?

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 19, 2018, 3:30 pm

Play away from the pin? Just because there's a tree in your way? Not Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano. Watch him channel some Arnie (or, more appropriately, some Seve) with this shot in the Valderrama Masters:

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Cut Line: Johnny's exit, Tiger's fatigue

By Rex HoggardOctober 19, 2018, 2:06 pm

In this week’s edition we bid farewell to the most outspoken and insightful analyst of his generation and examine a curious new interpretation that will require players to start paying attention to the small print.

Made Cut

Here’s Johnny. After nearly three decades Johnny Miller will hang up his microphone following next year’s Waste Management Phoenix Open.

Miller called his first tournament as NBC Sports/Golf Channel’s lead analyst in 1990 at the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic and he told Cut Line this week that at 71 years old he’s ready to relax and spend time with his 24 grandchildren.

“I was the first guy with an open microphone,” Miller said. “That requires a lot of concentration. It’s not that I couldn’t do it but the handwriting was on the wall; it would be more of a challenge.”

Miller will be missed for his insight as much as his often-blunt deliveries, but it’s the latter that made him one of a kind.

A long ride to the right place. After nearly four years of legal wrangling a group of PGA Tour caddies dropped their class-action lawsuit against the circuit this week.

The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in early 2015 in an attempt by the caddies to secure marketing rights for the bibs they wear during tournaments as a way to create better healthcare and retirement benefits.

The district court largely ruled against the caddies and that ruling was upheld by an appeals court earlier this year, but better healthcare options may still be in the cards for the caddies.

“I told the guys, if we really want a healthy working relationship with the Tour, we need to fix this and open the lines of communication,” said Scott Sajtinac, the president of the Association of Professional Tour Caddies.

Sajtinac told Cut Line that the Tour has offered a potential increase to the longtime stipend they give caddies for healthcare and in a statement the circuit said talks are ongoing.

“The PGA Tour looks forward to continuing to support the caddies in the important role they play in the success of our members,” the statement said.

It’s rare when both sides of a lawsuit walk away feeling good about themselves, but this particular outcome appears to have ended with a favorable outcome for everybody involved.


Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

A long haul. Tiger Woods acknowledged what many had speculated about, telling a group this week at his annual Tiger Woods Invitational at Pebble Beach that his season-ending push and his first victory in five years took a physical toll at the Ryder Cup.

“It was just a cumulative effect of the entire season,” Woods said on Tuesday. “I was tired because I hadn’t trained for it. I hadn’t trained this entire comeback to play this much golf and on top of that deal with the heat and the fatigue and the loss of weight.”

Woods went 0-4 for the U.S. team in France and appeared particularly tired on Sunday following the European victory at Le Golf National.

For Woods the result was worth the effort with his victory at the Tour Championship ending a five-year drought, but his play and concession that it impacted him at the Ryder Cup does create some interesting questions for U.S. captain Jim Furyk, who sent Woods out for both team sessions on Saturday.

Tweet(s) of the week: @BobEstesPGA (Bob Estes) “I spoke to a past Ryder Cup captain yesterday. We both agreed that there should be a week off before the [Ryder Cup] to adequately rest and prepare.”

Given Woods’ comments this week it seems likely he would agree that a break – which may become the norm with the Tour season ending three weeks earlier – would be helpful, but Belgian Nicolas Colsaerts had a slightly different take in response to Estes’ tweet. “I’m afraid a different schedule wasn’t gonna make the fairways wider. On that particular course with how we played, [the United States] had absolutely no chance. Hasn’t more than half the euros played playoffs too?” Colsaerts tweeted.

It’s never too early to get a jump on the 2020 trash talking.


Missed Cut

By the book. The USGA and R&A’s most recent rulemaking hill involved the use of green-reading materials. On Monday the game’s rule-makers unveiled new interpretations on what will be allowed starting next year.

Out will be the legal-sized reams of information that had become ubiquitous on Tour, replaced by pocket-sized books that will include a limited scale (3/8 inch to 5 yards).

While the majority of those involved were in favor of a scaled-back approach to what to many seemed like information overload, it did seem like a curious line to draw.

Both sides of the distance debate continue to await which way the rule-makers will go on this front and, at least in the United States, participation continues to be a challenge.

Banning the oversized green-reading books may have been a positive step, but it was a micro issue that impacted a wildly small portion of the golf public. Maybe it’s time for the rule-makers to start looking at more macro issues.

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S.Y. Kim leads Kang, A. Jutanugarn in Shanghai

By Associated PressOctober 19, 2018, 10:24 am

SHANGHAI  -- Sei Young Kim led the LPGA Shanghai by one stroke at the halfway point after shooting a 5-under-par 67 in the second round on Friday.

Kim made six birdies, including four straight from the sixth hole, to move to a 10-under 134 total. Her only setback was a bogey on the par-4 15th.

Kim struggled in the first half of the year, but is finishing it strong. She won her seventh career title in July at the Thornberry Creek Classic, was tied for fourth at the Women's British Open, and last month was runner-up at the Evian Championship.

''I made huge big par putts on 10, 11, 12,'' Kim said on Friday. ''I'm very happy with today's play.''

Danielle Kang (68) and overnight leader Ariya Jutanugarn (69) were one shot back.


Buick LPGA Shanghai: Articles, photos and videos


''I like attention. I like being in the final group. I like having crowds,'' Kang said. ''It's fun. You work hard to be in the final groups and work hard to be in the hunt and be the leader and chasing the leaders. That's why we play.''

She led into the last round at the Hana Bank Championship last week and finished tied for third.

Brittany Altomare had six birdies in a bogey-free round of 66, and was tied for fourth with Bronte Law (68) and Brittany Lincicome (68).

Angel Lin eagled the par-5 17th and finished with the day's lowest score of 65, which also included six birdies and a lone bogey.

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'Caveman golf' puts Koepka one back at CJ Cup

By Associated PressOctober 19, 2018, 10:12 am

JEJU ISLAND, South Korea – Brooks Koepka, recently named the PGA Tour Player of the Year, gave himself the perfect opportunity to become the No. 1 player in the world when he shot a 7-under par 65 to move to within one shot of the lead in the CJ Cup on Friday.

At the Nine Bridges course, the three-time major champion made an eagle on his closing hole to finish on 8-under par 136 after two rounds, just one stroke behind Scott Piercy, who was bogey-free in matching Koepka's 65.

With the wind subsiding and the course playing much easier than on the opening day when the scoring average was 73.26, 44 players – more than half the field of 78 – had under-par rounds.

Overnight leader Chez Reavie added a 70 to his opening-round 68 to sit in third place at 138, three behind Piercy. Sweden's Alex Noren was the other player in with a 65, which moved him into a tie for fourth place alongside Ian Poulter (69), four out of the lead.

The best round of the day was a 64 by Brian Harman, who was tied for sixth and five behind Piercy.


Full-field scores from the CJ Cup

CJ Cup: Articles, photos and videos


The 28-year-old Koepka will move to the top of the world rankings when they are announced on Monday if he wins the tournament.

Thomas, playing alongside Koepka, matched Koepka's eagle on the last, but that was only for a 70 and he is tied for 22nd place at 1 under.

Koepka's only bogey was on the par-5 ninth hole, where he hit a wayward tee shot. But he was otherwise pleased with the state of his ''caveman golf.''

''I feel like my game is in a good spot. I feel like the way I played today, if I can carry that momentum into Saturday and Sunday, it will be fun,'' Koepka, winner of the U.S. Open and the PGA Championship, said.

''My game is pretty simple. I guess you can call it like caveman golf – you see the ball, hit the ball and go find it again. You're not going to see any emotion just because I'm so focused, but I'm enjoying it.''

Piercy, who has fallen to No. 252 in the world ranking despite winning the Zurich Classic earlier this year with Billy Horschel – there are no world ranking points for a team event – was rarely out of position in a round in which he found 13 of 14 fairways off the tee and reached 16 greens in regulation.

''Obviously, the wind was down a little bit and from a little bit different direction, so 10 miles an hour wind versus 20s is quite a big difference,'' said Piercy, who is looking for his first individual PGA Tour win since the Barbasol Championship in July 2015.

''It was a good day. Hit a couple close and then my putter showed up and made some putts of some pretty good length.''

Australia's Marc Leishman, winner last week at the CIMB Classic in Kuala Lumpur, shot a 71 and was seven behind. Paul Casey's 73 included a hole-in-one on the par-3 seventh hole and the Englishman is nine behind Piercy.