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Caddie Confidential: When does fan behavior go too far?

Fan behavior continues to be a hot topic on the PGA Tour, as some top players like Justin Thomas and Rory McIlroy have publicly voiced concerns over excessive rowdiness behind the ropes. Allen Eyestone/Zuma Press/Icon Sportswire

AUSTIN, Texas -- I hope you all know how much it means to me that Caddie Confidential means a lot to you. With that, I'm back with another edition this week after a great caddie conversation from the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play event.

As always, I'll continue to be honest with you in this space. I missed you all, too! Enjoy!


Question from Collins: What's it like having Tiger back from the caddie's perspective?

Answer from caddie: He makes the game so exciting that it's just great to have him back playing well again.

Answer from caddie 2, who was sitting close by: My friends that don't watch golf are calling and asking me questions about what happened in the third round on the 8th hole. Everyone is watching again.

Q: What are guys talking about Tiger on-site?

A: We actually talked about it in the practice round today, saying how good it is that he's playing.

Q: Is there a downside to Tiger being back and playing well?

A: [Laughs] Yeah, if you finish second and he wins. That's a downside! If you finish fourth or fifth, then it doesn't matter. But if you finish second to him?! Nah, there is no downside it. I've thought about it. Conservatively, he's doubled the purses, so -- coaches, players, trainers -- he's made everyone a lot richer.

Q: Rory [McIlroy] said the craziness costs Tiger half a shot a round. Jason Day said the opposite -- it cost everyone around Tiger shots. Where do you, as the caddie, fall on this subject?

A: I agree with Day, because Tiger's been dealing with this since he was 13 years old. Nobody can channel like this guy does. Also, having a huge gallery at most points actually helps him. Sometimes it might keep the ball in play. So yeah, there is an advantage [for Tiger].

Q: Tiger is the favorite (8-1) going into the Masters.

A: That's surprising to me right now. Honestly, if I was an oddsmaker, I'd say 25-1.

Q: Which is what it was not that long ago.

A: I think it is going to be a little bit tougher for him. He's going to have some tighter lies when he's chipping, and I think that could be a little bit of a struggle for him.

Q: There's a pretty good discussion going on about fan behavior at tournaments and what should be done. I really want get some caddie perspective on that.

A: I go back to a quote Bobby Jones wrote back in 1967 [see image below]:

Q: Yes, but we both know Augusta is not the same as a regular PGA Tour event. And the Waste Management Phoenix Open is the polar opposite of the Masters.

A: But if you had a family, you wouldn't want to take them to the Phoenix tournament.

Q: What tournament is the happy medium?

A: Charlotte. Quail Hollow [The Wells Fargo Championship] ... you have a respectful crowd. They're very nice. I've never had a bad experience there. I hardly ever have to tell people to be quiet. It's a good golf crowd.

Q: But they can get raucous, too.

A: They can, but it's polite. [Laughs.]

Q: That sounds like such a contradiction in terms. Polite raucousness?

A: Yeah, but they're not. I've never heard personal insults in Charlotte. People are respectful and they dress well. That's one thing when you talk about Phoenix; it used to be where that was the only tournament [hole] where you had rowdiness. But now, everyone wants their tournament to also have [a hole like 16 in Phoenix].

Q: Even The Players Championship on 17.

A: Yeah, and Colonial on No. 13.

Q: But Colonial's 13th hole used to be all about the caddie races, and that was cool.

A: That was fun.

Q: People only got raucous as soon as everyone left the tee box.

A: And it was fun because it was downhill at the start!

Q: [Laughs] And you didn't have to carry the bag the whole way if your player hit the green.

A: Exactly. And that was fun. I really kind of wish the tour would have let us keep running, because that gets the crowd engaged in a positive way. Now that we can't do it, the [crowd] is mad at the caddies for not running.

Q: And they start yelling while guys are on the green, which they didn't do before.

A: If I fall down for some reason and hurt myself, I'm not suing anyone. You know what I'm saying? If [the tour] is worried about liability, I don't think any caddie would have a problem. It's just part of it. It's just fun for us, and if you don't want to run, you don't have to. ... I had a race won on that 13th hole, and I probably got to within 10 yards of the green and I thought I had won it easy. [Laughs.] I felt this strong, big hand on my back. It was Tommy Armour III! He's a big strong guy, and he literally stopped me so that his caddie [and brother] Sandy could win!

Q: Back to the fans. I love when people say, "You can get closer to golfers than in any other sport." I've sat courtside at an NBA game, and that's closer.

A: And they sometimes go up into the stands. Those fans, they straighten up real quick. We have a friend who played baseball and he showed us a YouTube video of fans yelling at him from the stands ,and he's acting like he doesn't hear them, but they do. ... The point he was making was, if those same fans saw him at a 7-Eleven, they wouldn't say anything to him because [of his size]. But that's sort of my point, and that's why I'm glad Justin Thomas singled that fan out [at the Honda Classic]. There needs to be some consequences; you just can't [say and do what you want]. I wouldn't want anyone to come razzle you while you're during your job. If someone came to [this place] right now and started throwing insults at you or wishing you did a bad job, you wouldn't like that.

As a caddie, my first couple years [out here], it wouldn't have even phased me. But as I've gotten older and I'm seeing some ugly things, I don't want kids to hear it. Then it bothers me more.

Q: I can tell you, as a father, for me that's the line. [I tell him a story of an incident at a football game where I told a fan that if he cursed in front of my kids again, he was going to have to leave.]

A: But I like that about football fans, that the fans police themselves.

Q: In golf, it's such a fine line between when and what is appropriate. And when it's not appropriate, maybe the caddie can do something about it.

A: Tony Navaro, at the 2008 U.S. Open, he "straightened up" a couple of hecklers.

Q: He went under the ropes.

A: Yeah, got into a bit of a fight. There was a father and son, and they were both intoxicated.

Q: Maybe Rory is right about alcohol sales. This is just one of those things where there isn't an easy answer.

A: I love the fact that Justin Thomas straightened that guy out at Honda. I love the fact that Rory is saying things. Because it needs to come from the top players. Your average tour player? That's not going to go very far. It should, but it doesn't. I'm glad Rory went on to win the tournament because that was [an example of] actions speaking louder than words.

Q: Let's get to the golf course this week. What's the hardest hole to caddie?

A: There isn't one.

Q: What? Why?

A: Well, you're not worrying about a huge number. You make a 10 on a hole, you lose one hole, so you shouldn't be afraid of any holes.

Q: Which then means if you're coming down the stretch, if you're one down with 3 to play ...

A: [Laughs] That hole would be the hardest to caddie! Exactly!

Q: If there was one hole you could blow up and start over, which one would it be?

A: Well, altogether, it's a good golf course. The only kind of funky hole, in my opinion is No. 9. It's just really the tee shot and landing area. If it's downwind, really, the play's a 3-wood because if you hit driver, you can go through and you can go into the hazard. And it's also a blind tee shot to where you're ending up, so it kind of doesn't fit the rest of the golf course since the rest of the course is pretty much in front of you. You can see where your tee shots are ending up.

Q: What's the one thing about this past week that will surprise people?

A: Aw, man, that's so tough. I might need some help on this one.

[Another caddie in the vicinity speaks up.]

Caddie 3: That best friends can turn into enemies for 18 holes. [Everyone laughs.]

A: That's actually a good answer. It's sort of true.

Caddie 3: We will yuck it up for about two holes and then you won't hear another damn thing after that. We'll be all cool with each for about two holes like we always are, right?

Q: As soon as somebody goes 1 up, we not friends. [Everyone laughs.]

Back to caddie 1: Friendship gets put in the corner!