An awesome experience

By Michael CollinsAugust 7, 2008, 4:00 pm
BLOOMFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich. ' Well boys and girls, its taken some time, but I have finally got writers block! I just got to Detroit and as I am awaiting the start of the PGA Championship and I have no idea what to write. Its my first major without Tiger and my experience at this event last year was not a good one ' and he was here.
 
Tonight at dinner with Alex Micelli, who youve seen on GOLF CHANNEL, and the rest of the XM team I thought: Something really good is gonna come from this and Ill write about that. Well, as much fun as we had at dinner, if I wrote about what we were talking about Id probably be fired in the morning. Topics like the LPGA, the PGA TOURs pension plan, the Tour without Tiger, and Michelle Wie are all interesting topics but... the table got pretty heated and ended with us all having a toast to a good week.
 
But what can we expect this week? Vijay Singh won last week; Phil Mickelsons here; Kenny Perry is making an appearance; Anthony Kim finally got the baseball swing out of his system, but... the final major of the year is not sold out. Tickets are available for everyday which is weird for a major.
 
I never was fortunate enough to caddie at this major. Whoever I caddied for never got in the year I worked for him. Maybe thats a hint at how good a caddie I am?
 
I will tell you that the preparation for a major for a caddie is a lot different than for a regular Tour event. A course that youve never seen before, greens youve never read before and the feeling is a bit different on the driving range ' a little quieter, more subdued, still chatter but not quite the same.
 
So you wanna know what its like to caddie in a major? Awesome. When you step up on the first tee, there are a few more butterflies (yes, we caddies get em, too). That first read on the green brings some more butterflies as well, because it can set the tone for whether or not your player will call you in for more reads, and all great caddies want to be a part of the team out there.
 
Talking to some of my caddie buddies here this week, they tell me this course has no let up, no breaks, no breather holes. I asked a few guys what they thought the winning score was gonna be and out of 10 guys, only two said under par ' and they both said only if it rains!
 
Thats one of the things that makes caddying in a major so difficult, you have to be the ray of sunshine. After a stupid bogey or double you have to be able to get your player to move on, to let that hole go before you get to the next tee shot. Its not easy to do but scoreboards help, because at a major, everybody is making stupid mistakes every now and then and he who makes the least gets the trophy.
 
Im anxious to see which players have meltdowns so I can watch my friends try and calm down their players.
 
I do remember a particular meltdown that had to be fixed when I was caddying on the Nationwide Tour. I was working for Chris Couch at an event in Virginia before we made it to the big dance. We made a stupid bogey on a par 5 and now had to play a short par 4, which was reachable for Couch who was one of the longest hitters back then, but blind if you go for the green.
 
I hadnt been working for him very long (4 months) but we had a good relationship on and off the course; thank goodness, too. As we get to the tee, I hand him the 5-iron, just like we had done in the practice round and in Round 1. He takes a couple of practice swings and then backs off and comes over to the bag and says, Im so mad right now, I just wanna hit driver. The problem was he had been babying the driver all day and wasnt hitting it particularly well ' a dangerous combination on a short par 4 with out of bounds right.
 
So I said to him, Hey, 5-iron is the play and well hit wedge tight. He steps back to the ball with 5-iron in hand, but hes shaking his head like hes not happy. So I call him back to the bag, Pro... (he looks over) come here. I move the bag closer to him as he steps towards me. Gimme it, I say holding my hand out. He hands me the 5-iron. I take the head cover off the driver and hold it out. He takes it but I dont let go. I yank him towards me, look him in the eyes and say, If youre gonna hit it, (blankin) HIT IT. Ill never forget the look on his face ' eyes wide knowing I wanted him to go ahead and tear the cover off it. And man did he hit it. Over the back of the green! We got up and down for birdie.
 
Well, the writers block is gone. Thanks yall! Something special is going to happen this week, a story no one knows about yet. I can feel it.
 
Michael Collins has been a stand-up comedian for 15 years and has more than seven years experience as a professional caddie. He currently covers the PGA TOUR as a correspondent with XM Satellite Radio and takes his turn on The Turn Mondays on GOLF CHANNEL. He also has his own Web site, www.funnycaddy.com
 
Email your thoughts to Michael Collins
 
Related Links:
  • Michael Collins Archive
  • Getty Images

    Woods: New putter should help on slower greens

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 17, 2018, 11:35 am

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Tiger Woods’ ice-cold putting showed at least a few signs of heating up earlier this month at The National, where he switched putters and ranked seventh in the field on the greens.

    The mallet-style putter is still in the bag as Woods prepares for The Open, and he’s hoping the heavier model with grooves will prove valuable at Carnoustie.


    Full-field tee times from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    “To be honest with you, I’ve struggled on slower greens throughout my entire career,” Woods said Tuesday. “So for me, it’s going to help on these greens, for sure.”

    To combat the slower greens, Woods usually applied a strip of lead tape to his putter. But this heavier model of putter doesn’t need the extra weight, and the grooves on the putter face allow the ball to get rolling faster and hotter.

    “You don’t necessarily have to do that with the grooves,” he said of the lead tape. “When I putted with the Nike putter, I didn’t have to put lead tape on the putter to get a little more weight to it. I could just leave it just the way it was. This is the same type.”  

    For all of the talk about his putting woes this season, Woods still ranks 56th in strokes gained: putting. More crucial this week: He’s 102nd in approach putt performance, which quantifies how well a player lag putts.

    Getty Images

    Woods: Open best chance for long-term major success

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 17, 2018, 11:26 am

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Tiger Woods is more than a decade removed from his last major title, but he said Tuesday that The Open is the major that gives him the best chance for long-term success.

    “I would say yes, because of the fact that you don’t have to be long to play on a links-style golf course,” Woods said during his pre-tournament news conference. “It certainly can be done.”


    Full-field tee times from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    Woods pointed to the late-career success for both Greg Norman (2008) and Tom Watson (2009), both of whom challenged for the claret jug deep into their 50s.

    “Distance becomes a moot point on a links-style golf course,” he said.

    That’s certainly not the case, however, at the Masters, where bombers long have thrived, or the U.S. Open, which places a premium on long and straight driving.

    “You get to places like Augusta National, which is just a big ballpark, and the golf course outgrows you, unfortunately,” he said. “But links-style courses, you can roll the ball. I hit a 3-iron that went down there 330. Even if I get a little bit older, I can still chase some wood or long club down there and hit the ball the same distance.”

    Getty Images

    "Vantage Point with Mike Tirico" set to debut Tuesday, July 17 at 9 p.m. ET on Golf Channel

    By Golf Channel Public RelationsJuly 17, 2018, 10:15 am

    Special Hour Complementing the Network’s Week-Long Golf Central Live From The Open News Coverage; Premiere Scheduled to Include Interview with 2014 Open Runner-Up Rickie Fowler On-Site from Carnoustie

    Features Include Tirico and Curtis Strange Re-watching ’99 Open at Carnoustie & Jim “Bones” Mackay Facilitating Exclusive Conversation with Caddies Michael Greller, John Wood Recounting Final Round Pairing at 2017 Open

    To help set the table ahead of The 147TH Open at Carnoustie, Golf Channel will premiere Vantage Point with Mike Tirico on Tuesday, July 17 at 9 p.m. ET. An extension of the network’s week-long Golf Central Live From The Open comprehensive news coverage, Vantage Point will revisit landmark moments in The Open’s history, uncover personal stories relevant to the fabric of the week and feature a roundtable discussion with past “Champion Golfers of the Year” on golf’s original championship.

    “It’s a thrill to be going back to The Open again this year, which is a fitting setting to launch this new opportunity,” said Tirico, NBC Sports host who this week will celebrate his 22nd consecutive year covering The Open. “I love being a part of the Golf Channel team during golf’s biggest weeks, and anticipate contributing to our commitment to great storytelling with Vantage Point.”

    Kicking off the premiere of Vantage Point will be Tirico’s exclusive interview with 2014 Open runner-up and 2015 PLAYERS champion Rickie Fowler on-site from Carnoustie. One of Fowler’s favorite events, he has missed just one cut in eight previous appearances at The Open. Other highlights within the show include:

    • Jim “Bones” Mackay facilitating an exclusive conversation between caddies Michael Greller (Jordan Spieth) and John Wood (Matt Kuchar) recounting the final round pairing at The Open last July.
    • Tirico hosting a roundtable discussion with past “Champion Golfers of the Year”: David Duval, Tom Lehman and Justin Leonard.
    • A recollection of one of the most unforgettable collapses in major championship golf, when Jean van de Velde surrendered a three-shot lead on the 72nd hole in 1999 at The Open. Tirico and Curtis Strange – both on the live tournament broadcast that year for ABC/ESPN – recently re-watched the telecast together for the first time since calling it live.

     

    “This is harder to watch than I thought it was going to be. I’ve never seen anything like

    that in my life. I don’t think we’ll ever see anything like that again.” – Curtis Strange

     

    “I think I got caught up in the whole deal and felt human for the guy.” – Mike Tirico

     

    Vantage Point with Mike Tirico will complement the network’s Golf Central Live From The Open, which will feature nearly 60 hours of comprehensive news coverage from Carnoustie. In total, NBC Sports will dedicate more than 350 hours to showcasing the third men’s major championship of the year, including nearly 50 live hours of the network’s Emmy-nominated tournament coverage – annually the most live hours of coverage from any golf event – spanning from Thursday’s opening tee shot to Sunday’s final putt.

    Getty Images

    Tiger Tracker: 147th Open Championship

    By Tiger TrackerJuly 17, 2018, 8:40 am

    Tiger Woods is competing in his first Open Championship since 2015. We're tracking him this week at Carnoustie.