AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Not many people have ever experienced what a major champion caddie goes through, so getting to chat with one I'm lucky enough to call a friend was pretty special after he won his first major as a caddie alongside Masters champion Patrick Reed. Kessler Karain rushed into the caddie area and was told he had five minutes to get back up to a special reception he was expected to attend. He spent those few minutes with me, so we could all learn what he went through. Tiger Woods' caddie Joe LaCava was sitting at the table, too.
Gentleman from the caddie area: Before you go with that gentleman [to the reception] you need to talk to [a man who shall remain nameless] in the office about your suit [caddie jumpsuit].
Kessler: Do I have to give it back?
Gentleman: You have to give it back tonight. ([A concerned look comes on Kessler's face.]
Collins: They're going to send it to you.
LaCava: Back in '92 [when on the bag for winner Fred Couples], I took mine that day!
Kessler: Hey, did you take the hole stick too? [The flag from the 18th green could be seen poking out of his white jumpsuit.]
LaCava: You know what, do yourself a favor and just take the flag cause I want to be the only guy with the stick.
Gentleman: You're not. [Everyone stops and looks at him.] You're not.
Lacava: Well, I already took it in '92.
Gentleman: Yeah, but you're not the only guy to take the stick and the flag.
LaCava: But I think I was the first one to take the stick.
Gentleman: The last two guys couldn't get the flag off, so they brought the whole stick up.
LaCava: I didn't even try to get the flag off. I wanted the whole stick.
Kessler: Well those guys must be weak because I got it off like it was nothing.
Collins: Yeah, but you're Wolverine though.
Gentleman: Well, I think they got tired of the stick getting taken and they didn't tighten it so much.
Collins: So they did that on purpose so the stick wouldn't get taken. Which means now you have to take it.
LaCava: Take everything!
Kessler: I think I'm gonna take it then.
LaCava: If it's available.
Kessler: When I'm on my way back out I'm going to go snag it then. [Turns to me.] What you got? We got like a minute and a half.
Collins: Best shot you saw all week from Patrick?
LaCava: The 2½-footer on 18. I can answer that one.
Kessler: I think it was about 3 feet. The eagle on 15 yesterday [Saturday] by far was super-clutch. We got a little lucky with covering that water and then he made the most of it.
Collins: What part of the week stressed you out the most?
Kessler: Definitely today coming in ... I have to say on 18, just because you know you can't error at all. It's not like you walk in with a two-shot lead like we were hoping.
Collins: Did you know where you stood?
Kessler: We knew. We knew because you here Rickie [Fowler] and the roars and I'm like, "Oh great." And you know that movie line, "Why don't you die?" That's exactly what's going in my head like, "Why?"
Collins: So when you get on the tee, what was that feeling like? Terror or excitement?
Kessler: Well the worst part is that he [Rickie Fowler] makes it and then the crowd sees the [score] go up on the board behind [Patrick] and they go, "Oooooo." And you're like, "Thanks, thanks a lot." But, of course, Patrick is zoned in, he's like, "I know what I'm doing." But I'm over here like, "I hate you people right now."
Collins: For making that noise?
Kessler: Yeah. Like ... "Why? You gotta do that now? Right as he tees it up? You couldn't do it after?" So that was pretty killer. You par, you win. Simple as that. Hit the fairway, hit the green, two-putt, call it a day.
Collins: When he hits the tee shot and it's in the fairway, you still can't take that deep breath?
Kessler: No. Absolutely not.
Collins: Take me through that last part with a one-shot lead.
Kessler: So him and I have probably said five words to each other that weren't about golf today. Everything was about what we were doing and about the shot we were taking.
[Side note: Kessler and I had a conversation about how when your player is playing really good, sometimes there is little chit-chat between caddie and player. It keeps them in the zone. That talk happened Saturday night.]
There was a guy on 13 that was sitting by that creek. This is what we said to each other that wasn't about golf basically. He goes, "Hey, that guy looks like he's taking a leak in the pond over there." That's literally what he said. That's all we said that wasn't about golf. And I go, "Yeah, it does look like he's taking a leak."
So anyways ... walking up 18 we think, all right, let's get this second shot on the green. And, of course, you want to be maybe just to the right, pin-high. It's a pretty straightforward putt. But, of course, his adrenaline was kickin'. And he just hits it, little-pull hook. It's just a little bit too long.
We didn't know how to gauge the crowd. It was very iffy. I thought it was going to go left and be off the green, which is killer [not good] for that pin. But we hear some claps and I go, "It must be OK." And he says, "I think it's a little long." I go, "Yeah, it had to have just barely covered [the bunker] and shot it." When it was in the air all I was thinking was, "Please cover, please cover." Because if it smacks in there it's probably plugging or it's not going to be pretty. So you see it cover and there's a few claps, so you figure it's got to be decent. Then we see it on the green, but it's a very fast putt. And you know it. He barely breathed on it and you saw how far by it went.
Collins: And what are you feeling?
Kessler: The most nerve-racking part is, when I see him [take a deep breath], I'm like, Geez, man. [Now Kessler is breathing heavy like he was on the 18th green just a short time before.] I was thinking, "Should I say something to him or should I not say something to him?" I go, 'Nope, just stay out of the way, he's got it.' And, of course, he did.
Collins: When that ball disappeared into the cup, what was the first thing you thought?
Kessler: The first three words that came out of my mouth were, "Yes, yes, yes!" There was probably some expletives going on. That's what I told him, "Great job. It didn't look pretty, but it definitely got the job done."
Collins: This is your first major win as a caddie. What does that mean to you?
Kessler: I don't think I'll ever forget this the rest of my life.
Gentleman: They're ready for him.
I can't wait to find out if he got the flagstick.