On his way home from Colonial Country Club late last Sunday, fresh from a closing 3-over 73 and a tie for 31st, Ryan Palmer called his longtime caddie James Edmondson. The duo had been here before, like last summer when Palmer inexplicably missed 11 of 13 cuts, and Edmondson knew Palmer was close to another breakthrough.
“I told him, ‘You’re right there I can see it. I know your record is not great (at the Byron Nelson Championship), but I see it,’” Edmondson told him. The pep talk led to a startling suggestion, “You know what, I’m going to let you call the shots next week. You tell me to do everything,” Palmer said.
For two windy days on the TPC Four Seasons Resort course, Edmondson has led the way and Palmer has executed to near perfection. He’s covered 36 holes in 8 under par (65-67) and leads the Byron Nelson by two strokes.
“All I did is get on each tee and waited until he told me what to do,” Palmer said on Thursday. “(Edmondson) told me what side of the tee box to get on, and what side he wanted me to be on, what target he wanted me to hit, and it was my job to hit the shot. I think there is something there because I was really relaxed and calm and at ease. It came easy.”
Although it’s difficult to argue with the results, giving up strategic control is not an easy leap for a professional golfer and Edmondson said there have been moments the last two days when Palmer seemed a tad reluctant, like each day when the caddie instructed him to hit 5-wood off the par-4 finishing hole.
“On Wednesday in the pro-am after about eight or nine holes he was like, ‘Should we hit something else?’” Edmondson told GolfChannel.com on Friday. “I was like, ‘Are we doing this or not?’ He’s just being an athlete and playing golf.”
The unique relationship likely wouldn’t work for every player-caddie combination, but Palmer and Edmondson are not a normal player-caddie combo. The two have been competing against each other since 1992 when they were in high school and play regular games at Colonial when they are home.
“If there’s anyone in the world he will trust to do it, it would be me,” Edmondson said. “We know what the other guy is thinking most of the time anyway.”