Caddie Wack

By Rex HoggardMay 6, 2009, 4:00 pm
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The PlayersPONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. ' Steve Pepsi Hale watched all 5,947 of Johnson Wagners strokes in 2008, none more memorable than the 272 his man needed to take his first PGA Tour title last spring in Houston. But none of those pokes could compare in pure entertainment value to the quick, nervous swipe Hale took on Wednesday at TPC Sawgrass par-3 17th green.
 
As Tour traditions go, Wednesdays caddie contest on the Stadiums 17th may not be the most hallowed, or the most family-friendly considering some of the colorful language that was getting tossed around, but it does not lack for laughs.
 
2009 The Players
Steve Williams, Tiger Woods' caddie, hits a shot Wednesday at the Caddie Tournament. (Getty Images)
This years contest, which featured a donation jug that players contributed to, as well as a new laptop computer and iPod Touch to the winning looper with the shot closest to the pin, was won by Robert Karlssons caddie Gareth Lord, who toted his own pitching wedge to the tee and lofted his shot to 6 feet, 1 inch and, for good measure, stroked in the birdie putt.
 
The real genius to the caddie bout, however, are all those nervous souls who dont hit the green or even the water. In an unorthodox twist, Hale hit both.
 
Worst shot thats ever stayed on land, Wagner smiled.
 
The Tours ShotLink program would be pressed to follow Hales offering: It never got higher than 4 feet off the ground at its highest point, skipped once across the water, which took just enough spin off, hit into the mound of the bunker and stopped about 25 feet from the hole.
 
Ugliest shot that ever hit the green, pressed Wagner, whose not-so-gentle jabs make up the foundation of the caddie contest. Welcome to the Trash Talk Open. For caddies who spend their entire lives giving instructions and lecturing on positive attitudes and clear thoughts, the 17th is a chance for the player to take pained pleasure as caddies experience life on the business end of a golf grip. As a rule, most Tour caddies can play. Damon Green, who finished second with a shot that rolled to 8 feet, 3 inches, is a few years and little else away from a career on the Champions Tour.
 
Damon should be disqualified, joked Joe Damiano, Stuart Applebys long-time caddie. So long, in fact, hes had his fill of the 17th. I usually just throw a ball in the water and keep walking.
 
Thats not to say the gallery around Lake Dye wasnt treated to anything resembling good golf. The 17th ' water, galleries and all ' turns 2 handicaps into weekend hackers.
 
Exhibit A: Mark Love, an accomplished amateur who stepped in to caddie for his brother Davis, reluctantly took a swing. Hit it a little heavy onto the front of the green. It was dry. A small victory for a player whose golf genes run as deep as Loves.
 
Exhibit F: Longtime looper John Cubby Burke pulled his attempt so far left he avoided the pond altogether and bounced his best into the gallery.
 
Adding to the pressure of this years festivities was the looming presence of No. 41 in the gallery. As players marched to the tee they were greeted by former President George H.W. Bush. As if 130 yards of watery gloom and swirling winds werent enough to fry nerves.
 
The electronic scoreboard adjacent the 17th flashed: Once a year the PGA Tour caddies get an opportunity to show their skills. By and large, the announcement was a vowel off ' swap an i for a u in skills.
 
The days worst effort, however, belonged to Ray Farnell, the likable bagman for Greg Kraft. Just as the winds began to whip and the galleries had surged into the thousands, Farnell stepped to the tee, caught Krafts 9-iron heavy and watched his ball come up 20 yards short of the green.
 
As Kraft serenaded his man with heckles, Farnell tossed the 9-iron to another caddie waiting to tee off, over his head and into the water.
 
That was my 9-iron, a stunned Kraft said. Its the same club I hit on the last hole to win in Puerto Rico (in 2007).
 
The club ' like so many wayward golf balls, 46 of 70 by mid-afternoon ' stayed in the water, but the laughs lasted all afternoon.
 
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    DJ triples last hole, opens with 76 at Open

    By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 19, 2018, 6:18 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Dustin Johnson’s chances of winning The Open are likely already over.

    The world No. 1 hit his tee shot out of bounds on 18 on his way to a triple bogey, capping a miserable day that left him with a 5-over 76, 10 shots off the lead and in danger of missing the cut.

    Johnson didn’t talk to reporters afterward, but there wasn’t much to discuss.

    He didn’t make a birdie until the par-5 14th, bogeyed 16 and then made 7 on Carnoustie's home hole when his tee shot caromed out of bounds left.

    Johnson has missed the cut only once in nine previous appearances at The Open – in his first try in 2009.

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    'The Golf Club 2019' adds Elvy to commentary team

    By Nick MentaJuly 19, 2018, 4:45 pm

    “The Golf Club 2019” is adding a new name to its commentary team.

    Broadcaster Luke Elvy will join returning announcer and HB Studios developer John McCarthy for the title's third installment.

    Golf fans will recognize Elvy from his recent work with CBS in addition to his time with Sky Sports, FOX Sports, TNT, PGA Tour Live and PGA Tour Radio.

    A 25-year media veteran from Australia, he now works in the United States and lives with his family in Canada.

    "Ian Baker-Finch was my right-hand man on Australian televison," Elvy told GolfChannel.com in an interview at the Quicken Loans National. "And Finchy said to me, 'What are you doing here? You should be with me in the States.’ He introduced me to a few people over here and that's how the transition has happened over the last five or six years."

    Elvy didn't have any prior relationship with HB Studios, who reached out to him via his management at CAA. As for why he got the job, he pseudo-jokes: "They heard the accent, and said, 'We like that. That works for us. Let's go.' That's literally how it happened."

    He participated in two separate recording sessions over three days, first at his home back in February and then at the HB Studios shortly after The Players Championship. He teased his involvement when the game was announced in May.

    Although he doesn't describe himself as a "gamer," Elvy lauded the game's immediate playability, even for a novice.

    “It’s exactly how you’d want golf to be,” he said.

    "The Golf Club 2019" will be the first in the HB series to feature PGA Tour branding. The Tour had previously licensed its video game rights to EA Sports.

    In addition to a career mode that will take players from the Web.com Tour all the way through the FedExCup Playoffs, "The Golf Club 2019" will also feature at launch replicas of six TPC courses played annually on Tour – TPC Summerlin (Shriners Hospitals for Children Open), TPC Scottsdale's Stadium Course (Waste Management Phoenix Open), TPC Sawgrass’ Stadium Course (The Players Championship), TPC Southwind (FedEx St. Jude Classic/WGC-FedEx St. Jude Championship), TPC Deere Run (John Deere Classic), and TPC Boston (Dell Technologies Championship).

    “I played nine holes at Scottsdale,” Elvy added. “It’s a very close comparison. Visually, it’s very realistic."

    The Golf Club 2019 is due out this August on PlayStation 4, XBOX One, and PC.

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    Expired visa, helicopter, odd clubs all part of Vegas' journey

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 19, 2018, 3:48 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Jhonattan Vegas thought someone was playing a practical joke on him.

    Or maybe he was stuck in the middle of a horror movie.

    Scheduled to leave for The Open a week ago, he didn’t arrive at Carnoustie until a little more than an hour before his first-round tee time Thursday.

    “Even if somebody tried to do that on purpose,” he said, “you couldn’t really do it.”

    The problem was an expired visa.

    Vegas said that he must have gotten confused by the transposed date on the visa – “Guessing I’ve been living in America too long” – and assumed that he was cleared to travel.

    No problem, he was told. He’d have a new visa in 24 hours.


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    Except the consulate in New York didn’t respond to his application the next day, keeping him in limbo through the weekend. Then, on Monday, he was told that he’d applied for the wrong visa. UPS got shut down in New York and his visa never left, so Vegas waited in vain for seven hours in front of the consulate in Houston. He finally secured his visa on Wednesday morning, boarded a flight from Houston to Toronto, and then flew to Glasgow, the final leg of a 14-hour journey.

    His agent arranged a helicopter ride from Glasgow to Carnoustie to ensure that he could make his 10:31 a.m. (local) tee time.

    One more issue? His clubs never made it. They were left back in Toronto.

    His caddie, Ruben Yorio, scrambled to put together a new bag, with a mismatched set of woods, irons, wedges and putter.

    “Luckily the (equipment) vans are still here,” Vegas said. “Otherwise I probably would have played with members’ clubs today.”

    He hit about 20 balls on the range – “Luckily they were going forward” – but Carnoustie is one of the most challenging links in the world, and Vegas was working off of two hours’ sleep and without his own custom-built clubs. He shot 76 but, hey, at least he tried.

    “It was fun,” he said, “even though the journey was frustrating.”

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    'Brain fart' leads to Spieth's late collapse

    By Rex HoggardJuly 19, 2018, 2:44 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – The closing stretch at Carnoustie has famously ruined many a solid round, so Jordan Spieth’s misadventures on Thursday should not have been a complete surprise, but the truth is the defending champion’s miscues were very much self-inflicted.

    Spieth was cruising along at 3 under par, just two shots off the early lead, when he made a combination of errors at the par-4 15th hole. He hit the wrong club off the tee (4-iron) and the wrong club for his approach (6-iron) on his way to a double bogey-6.

    “The problem was on the second shot, I should have hit enough club to reach the front of the green, and even if it goes 20 yards over the green, it's an easy up-and-down,” Spieth said. “I just had a brain fart, and I missed it into the location where the only pot bunker where I could actually get in trouble, and it plugged deep into it. It was a really, really poor decision on the second shot, and that cost me.”


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    Spieth continued to compound his problems with a sloppy bogey at the 16th hole, and a drive that sailed left at 18 found the Barry Burn en route to a closing bogey and a 1-over 72.

    The miscues were more mental, a lack of execution, than they were an example of how difficult the closing stretch at Carnoustie can be, and that’s not good enough for Spieth.

    “That's what I would consider as a significant advantage for me is recognizing where the misses are,” said Spieth, who was tied for 68th when he completed his round. “It felt like a missed opportunity.”