SAN DIEGO -- Steve Duplantis, a popular PGA Tour caddie
known for bringing out the best in his players, was killed early
Wednesday when he was struck by a taxi while crossing a street.
Duplantis was in Del Mar when he stepped off a center median and
into the path of a taxi, said Sgt. Randy Webb of the San Diego
Sheriff's Department. The 35-year-old Duplantis was pronounced dead
on the scene.
He was working at the Buick Invitational for Eric Axley.
Axley was visibly shaken when he arrived at Torrey Pines and
asked for a few days before he commented.
Duplantis was a free spirit after hours who was regarded as
among the best caddies inside the ropes. Jim Furyk won four times
early in his career with Duplantis on the bag. The caddie also
steered Rich Beem to his first PGA Tour victory in the 1999 Kemper
Open, and he was with Tommy Armour III when he set the PGA Tour's
72-hole scoring record at the Texas Open in 2003.
Among the nicknames caddies gave Duplantis was "Asbestos,"
because he was thought to be fireproof. Even though he often showed
up late for work after a night on the town, his value as a caddie
was too much for players to replace him.
"He was one of the better caddies," Armour said. "That's why
he kept getting hired. He was very confident with what he said."
Armour, however, feared Duplantis' nightlife would land him in
"Am I shocked by this? No," Armour said. "I tried several
times to get him some help. And I told him in 2003, 'Bud, if you
don't change, you're going to die a tragic death."
Duplantis and his nightlife exploits were prominently featured
in a book titled, "Bud, Sweat and Tees," a story primarily about
Beem and Duplantis were together only about six months, the
first time at the 1999 Kemper Open, Beem's first tour victory.
Beem, who later won the PGA Championship at Hazeltine, was
informed of his death during the pro-am.
"He was the first person who showed me the value of a good
caddie, which I now have," Beem said. "You felt comfortable with
him on the bag because he knew what to say. He was confident."
Beem mostly remembered how Duplantis looked after his daughter,
Sierra, who turned 12 this month. His marriage ended quickly, and
at one point Duplantis was a single parent trying to keep his job
as a caddie. He worked with Furyk for four years until he was fired
for showing up late one time too many.
"He always lit up when talking about Sierra," Beem said. "He
always had current pictures of her in his wallet. For a lot of
years, he was the only parent in her life. Yes, he liked to party.
But that part of his life gets lost."
The mood was somber on the putting green, where some caddies
were waiting on their players.
"He was a throwback," caddie Patrick Smith said. "He raised
the level of every player he worked for. He could take guys who
were marginal and they would play well."