SOUTHPORT, England -- High winds and cooler temperatures meant bogeys were slapping guys' scorecards like the waves slap the beach ... often. What does that mean for the caddies who have to deal with the players losing their cool? And just how hard was the golf course Friday compared to Thursday?
Enjoy Friday's Caddie Confidential!
Collins: If Day 1 was a barrel of monkeys, Day 2 was ...?
Caddie: A hornet's nest!
Collins: What was the biggest challenge on Friday?
Caddie: I'd say the biggest challenge was staying out of the bunkers off the tee. And keeping my guy "cool," level-headed, and in the moment.
Collins: It's hard to keep your guy chill?
Caddie: It's difficult, really. Fortunately today I was very lucky. My guy's typically known for having some issues with "boiling up." But it was surprisingly good yesterday, and today he was even more focused and more present. We hit it in one bunker and he got a little bit upset cause we didn't wanna be there, but couldn't help it ... but he put it behind him quickly and he moved forward. I was really impressed with that. He made my job really easy today.
Collins: Comparing Thursday to Friday, do brutal conditions make club selection easier or harder?
Caddie: Well first off, today was completely opposite from yesterday. Super gusty, super strong wind, but in a different direction. Yesterday on the eighth hole we hit driver, sand wedge. Today we hit driver in the bunker (laughs).
Collins: Yesterday the bunker wasn't even in play?
Caddie: No! ... It was a whole different golf hole. A whole different golf course yesterday. And today being a little bit softer but super gusty, it was super challenging to get the right club. We just tried to pick a tight line, keep it low, keep it on the ground, put ourselves in position.
Collins: Doesn't that make it easier for clubs and patience?
Caddie: Yeah, it could be in a strange kinda way. It gets your focus on trying to survive the day. And you know other people are gonna have high scores. So I guess it can take your mind off of the cut [line]. Draws your attention, so to speak.
Collins: What was the hardest hole to caddie today in these conditions?
Caddie: Shoot, man (thinking hard about it). I'd say No. 10. Yeah, No. 10.
Caddie: It was downwind off the right. We had no real easy shot. We could cover the bunker [short] but we could reach the bunkers through the fairways. We couldn't hit it left because there's too much trouble. So we had to try to play short in the middle. But the difficult one was the approach shot. We had a hard left-to-right [wind] ... We had [the same wind on No. 9, and he didn't hit a good shot with a 9-iron], so we had the same kind of wind this time with a 7-iron and he stuck it! But it was a really difficult hole to caddie because I had to tell him, "Listen, you gotta hit it to the left of the green. Try to hit it in the rough, let the wind move it."
Collins: So you're having to tell your guy to aim at a target that normally you'd be saying, "Let's not go there."
Caddie: Yeah, 'cause on [No. 9] we picked a normal target and he just missed it a touch, and the wind just (says it slow and painfully drawn out) sails it.
Collins: What was the easiest hole to caddie?
Caddie: No. 1.
Collins: That's funny because yesterday's caddie said it was the hardest!
Caddie: Nah, today it was easy. We had downwind off the right, perfect 2-iron over the corner, then he knocked a wedge [tight]. I helped with the read (he said sarcastically, and we both laughed).
Collins: You caddie on the European Tour. How much different is this tournament for caddies?
Caddie: For caddies, honestly this feels like a European Tour event. More like the Dunhill [Links], a big event like that, because it's at St. Andrews, Carnoustie and Kingsbarns. It's just like a European Tour event magnified.
Collins: What's it like on the European Tour for the caddies? Have you talked to PGA Tour caddies and know what they've been going through?
Caddie: I was actually really super surprised about the treatment of the PGA Tour caddies, because on the European Tour, we have a European Tour caddie committee and we pretty much have a "caddie lounge" every week. Generally there's some decent food. We're allowed in the locker rooms, we mingle well with the players. It's really a nice treatment, actually. It's very cool. I was surprised on the PGA Tour [that] sometimes they just get like a tent or something, you know? I caddied two times at two U.S. Opens and I was surprised we were not let in the locker room. Because on the European Tour we're basically in the locker room, managing the bag, getting the bag ready. It's kind of like a little more of a family. Maybe that's why they do so well in the Ryder Cup. I'm not sure.
Collins: On the European Tour, it seems like you guys play in much worse weather.
Caddie: Yeah, I would say from what I've experienced, there are all kinds of weather, different grasses, different conditions. Yeah, weather especially this time of year is interesting. A lot of heavy bags.
Collins: How much different is the golf bag on a day like this than when the weather is fantastic?
Caddie: Yeah, well, [Thursday] there was still a 20 or 30 percent chance of rain, so the bag was so full ... What makes it really tough is there is so much to learn about a course like this. You're out there walking the course at least once in the morning before the round if you can. Then you walk it on the 18 holes. Me anyway. I do a lot of reconnaissance. I'm feeling it already.
Collins: And this isn't one of the harder walks.
Caddie: No, no. It's just long because they're not back and forth. They're spread out. And then you have to fight the crowds when you're trying to see where the hole locations are and the tee boxes and you're picking out your spots, your zones in the green. So it's a big fight, actually.
Collins: One thing about this golf course once the tournament started that surprised you? Any hole that played a lot differently yesterday and today than it did in the practice round?
Caddie: The only hole that surprised me, and luckily it was in the practice round, was we were playing a practice round ... and we stood on the 11th tee box and it was dead downwind. We were discovering how much release was on the course. My guy asked me, "Is 3-iron going to reach that bunker?" I said, "I don't think 3-iron is going to reach that bunker," right? It's downwind. It's got to roll at least 50 or 60 yards to get to that bunker. He rips it. I get a little gulp because I see he just smoked it. Big bounce. Another gulp. He looks at me. I look back. (The ball got in the bunker.) ... But it's like, c'mon man, it's a practice round. That's why we do this. Otherwise the course has played completely the opposite the last two days. I don't think there is anything that's really surprised me.
Collins: If people are watching on TV at home or listening on the radio, what's the one thing that people wouldn't see?
Caddie: I would say they wouldn't see the subtleties of the slopes. They wouldn't see the danger of these greens. They're fairly larger, but they're also small because they all have slope-offs. They wouldn't see the trickiness. They have subtle humps, but you can't see them on TV really.
Collins: What's it like to have somebody walk along with the group that rakes every bunker?
Caddie: Fantastic. I love it. I could get used to that. Especially these bunker rakes. They're foul. They don't work that well. Because the sand is like super soft and thick, or very light actually in grain. The rakes are not that designed well. They make big tracks. Maybe good for pasta, like you're going to make a penne or something. Plus they leave the bunker rakes in the middle of the bunker. That surprises me. Obviously they don't do that in the tournament. But it's nice.
Collins: How is it received over on the European Tour that guys can wear shorts in practice?
Caddie: At first it was very strange because you saw a lot of white legs. It didn't really look that good. But as a caddie it was nice because then you could practice during the practice rounds because the officials couldn't tell if you were a player or a caddie. You could get practice in, you could hit on the range if your guy was going home early. Just wear a hat and some dark glasses.
Collins: You better have a good swing to pull that off.
Caddie: Yeah. You don't want to do any Tin Cup shanks or anything.
Collins: What's going to be the biggest challenge over the weekend?
Caddie: I think just staying focused, in the present. It's going to be just really great. We're super happy to make the cut. We're on cloud nine. We're just going to enjoy it. So it's just going to be managing the crowd a little bit, maybe ... We're going to have a great weekend. We have a great process, and he's going to continue to hit the ball good. I think the challenge is we're just going to have to stay out of those bunkers and hit it in a good position.
Collins: What makes these bunkers so bad?
Caddie: They're just dead. You hit into them, you can't do anything. You just have to pitch out.
Caddie: Cause the way the sand is, it's super soft. But also they have a lot of bunker lips. They're death, man ... They're tough. You just have to stay out of them. There are a few greenside that are manageable. But off the tee, they're death.