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Caddies who make top golfers shine

Patrick Reed of the US during the green jacket ceremony after winning the 2018 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club Sunday in Augusta, Georgia. AFP PHOTO | NMG
Patrick Reed of the US during the green jacket ceremony after winning the 2018 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club Sunday in Augusta, Georgia. AFP PHOTO | NMG 

Last weekend, it was all about the first golf Major, the Masters, and golf pundits around the world remained glued to their screens watching Patrick Reed barely keep, then lose and eventually keep his lead on Sunday to win his first Green Jacket.

Reed, a US Ryder Cup player was lacklustre on Sunday, but his 1-under par score in the fourth round was enough to give him the crucial one-stroke lead over Ricky Fowler and a two-stroke lead over Jordan Spieth.

Spieth was on fire on Sunday, firing 8-under par, for his 13-under par score for the tournament, just one shot shy of the Augusta course record of 63 jointly held by Nick Price and Greg Norman.

Spieth was looking to win a second green jacket to add to the one he won in 2015. Fowler posted a 5-under par score on Sunday for his 14-under par total. Our favourite golfer, Tiger Woods had a tough day in the office throughout the tournament, eventually finishing T32.

However, his performance, although disappointing left fans and critics alike with one conclusion, it would only be a matter of time before Woods wins again.

Away from the golfers, have you ever noticed that the caddies at Augusta all wear the same jumpsuits and green caps? Have you ever wondered why?

According to GolfDigest.Com, in the early pro Tour days, players would not arrive at the Majors or at Tour events with their own caddies; instead, they would use those available from the club. And whilst this practice died out in the 1970s, Augusta National kept it going until the early 1980s.

However, even when the Masters Tournament Committee changed this policy, it still required all visiting caddies to wear the traditional uniform of the club’s own caddies — the white jumpsuits and green caps. Buy why would club caddies require ‘uniform’?

In the early days, caddies at Augusta were mainly poor black men from the neighbourhood and the uniform allowed them to look ‘smarter’, according to golfdigest.com. Now you know.

Some of the top caddies on the international scene have included Steve Williams, who has been on the bag for Greg Norman, Tiger Woods and Adam Scott.

Williams was with Woods from 1999 to 2011 and their fall out was acrimonious, to say the least. Mike Cowan aka Fluff was with Woods for three years before moving to work for Jim Furyk in 1999 and has served Furyk since.

Billy Foster has worked at 13 Ryder Cups, was on the bag for Seve Ballesteros for five years and worked for Lee Westwood, Sergio Garcia, Darren Clarke and even briefly for Woods — who currently has Joe LaCava on his bag.

LaCava spent more than 20 years with Fred Couples before working briefly for Dustin Johnson. In 2011 he joined Team Woods and has been there since.

The lady caddy Fanny Sunesson worked with Nick Faldo through four major championships, worked with Garcia before joining Henrik Stenson. Fanny retired in 2012 and now spends her time coaching and advising Pro golfers. She serves as the mental coach for Martin Kaymer.

Jim ‘Bones’ Mackay served Phil Mickelson for 25 years from 1992. He served Mickelson during each of his five major championships. The Mickelson-Mackay relationship is easily the most famous player-caddie relationship of all time.

One of the other great player-caddie relationships on Tour is the Jordan Spieth and Michael Greller. For 10 years, Greller was a math and science teacher doing what he loved, teaching.

However, the scratch golfer also loved caddying and looked for every opportunity to caddy, even doing so for free. He first worked with Spieth at the US Junior Amateur in 2011 and again at the 2012 US Open.

According to Greller, caddying is not just about carrying a bag. “Caddying isn’t just about carrying clubs and reading numbers off sprinkler heads.

A caddie must also serve in the roles of psychologist, agronomist, meteorologist and mathematician,” he said. “In the heat of a final round on the leaderboard, these roles intensify tenfold.”

According to various sources, Greller has taken home more than $5 million since quitting his teaching job and joining Spieth on Tour. Not bad!

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