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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Dunlap, in 'excruciating pain,' shares early Dominion lead

By Associated PressOctober 19, 2018, 10:29 pm

RICHMOND, Va. – Scott Dunlap and Fran Quinn shot 5-under 67 on Friday to share the first-round lead in the PGA Tour Champions' playoff-opening Dominion Energy Charity Classic.

Fighting a left wrist injury that will require surgery, Dunlap matched Quinn with a closing birdie on the par-5 18th on The Country Club of Virginia's James River Course.

''Maybe excruciating pain is the key to playing good golf because I'm not getting nervous on a shot, you're just trying to get through it,'' Dunlap said. ''The worst parts are gripping it and getting the club started ... that's when that bone hits that bone.''

The top 72 players qualified for the Charles Schwab Cup Playoffs opener. The top 54 on Sunday will get spots next week in the Invesco QQQ Championship in Thousand Oaks, Calif., and the top 36 after that will advance to the season-ending Charles Schwab Cup Championship in Phoenix.


Full-field scores from the Dominion Energy Charity Classic


The 55-year-old Dunlap entered the week 29th in the standings. Playing through the wrist injury, he's coming off ties for ninth and seventh in his last two starts.

''I think I finally taped it the right way,'' Dunlap said. ''Or maybe it's the pain meds kicking in. I don't know, one of the two.''

Quinn is 64th in the standings.

''I finished up strong last year, too, kind of secured my privileges for the following year making eagle on 18,'' Quinn said. ''I played solid all day. I had a lot of opportunities. A couple hiccups.''

Jay Haas was a stroke back with Kent Jones, Stephen Ames, Woody Austin and Tim Petrovic. The 64-year-old Haas won the last of his 18 senior titles in 2016.

Vijay Singh and Miguel Angel Jimenez, second in the standings, were at 69 with Joey Sindelar, Tom Gillis, Billy MayfairLee Janzen, Glen Day and Gene Sauers.

Defending champion Bernhard Langer opened with a 70. The 61-year-old German star won the SAS Championship last week in North Carolina to take the points lead. He has two victories this year and 38 overall on the 50-and-over tour.

Defending Charles Schwab Cup champion Kevin Sutherland had a 71. He's 14th in the standings. No. 3 Jerry Kelly shot 72. No. 4 Scott McCarron, the 2016 tournament winner, had a 74.

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Weather continues to plague Valderrama Masters

By Associated PressOctober 19, 2018, 7:55 pm

SOTOGRANDE, Spain  -- Marc Warren helped his chances of retaining his European Tour card by moving into a tie for second place behind Englishman Ashley Chesters at the rain-hit Andalucia Valderrama Masters on Friday.

Bad weather interrupted play for a second straight day at the Real Club Valderrama in southern Spain before darkness caused the second round to be suspended until Saturday, with overnight Chesters still ahead at 5-under.

Weather delays on Thursday, including a threat of lightning, had kept 60 golfers from finishing their opening round. They included Scottish player Warren, who went out on Friday and finished his first round with a 2-under 69.

He then made three birdies to go with one bogey on the first nine holes of the second round before play was halted. He joined Frenchman Gregory Bourdy one shot behind Chesters.


Full-field scores from the Andalucia Valderrama Masters


''I'm hitting the ball as well as I have in a long time,'' Warren said. ''Hitting fairways and greens is the most important thing around here, so hopefully I wake up tomorrow with the same swing.''

Chesters and Bourdy were among several golfers unable to play a single hole in the second round on Friday.

Warren, a three-time European Tour winner, has struggled this season and needs a strong performance to keep his playing privileges for next year.

Currently ranked 144th, Warren needs to break into the top 116 to keep his card.

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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.