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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Just a Few Thoughts...

About the news of the last couple of days.

First, the Presidents Cup picks were announced. In case you didn't hear, Greg Norman loaded up on Aussies who have fairly intimate knowledge of Royal Melbourne -- Robert Allenby and Aaron Baddeley. I think this caught a lot of people off Tuesday that he hoped that would happen. He also mentioned that he had spent nearly 30 minutes on the phone with Keegan Bradley and told him that he would take Steve Stricker's spot if Stricks ended up getting the shoulder surgery he's talked about.

Overall, these picks seem well thought-out on both sides. This should be an interesting meeting, especially given the losing record of the US in virtually every other current team event right now. That shouldn't make a difference, but you know how things can play on your mind...

The other thing is, of course, the announcement that Joe Lacava was leaving Dustin Johnson to caddie for Tiger Woods. Again, most of the conversations I've heard feel this is a good move for both Lacava and Tiger. Most of the debate has centered around speculation about whether Tiger treated DJ fairly in this deal.

I think this may be the wrong question. The better question is whether Lacava treated DJ fairly.

In a past post I mentioned a statement that Annika made on Morning Drive, in which she said that caddies are always looking for greener pastures. One thing which has not been emphasized much during these debates is the statement Lacava released that said he approached Tiger when the caddie job opened up. Although I haven't found the actual statement itself (I may be searching for it incorrectly), I did find this article from the Independent -- a UK site --that referenced Lacava's statement:
"LaCava confirmed he had instigated the appointment. 'I contacted Tiger... because this is a unique opportunity to be part of something very special,' he said. 'Tiger and I have been friends for a very long time, and I know what he can do.'"
This is definitely a case of a caddie simply leaving a player, not a player wooing a caddie away from another player.

And I'm not so surprised by this. Beyond a 4th at the Memorial, a T2 at the Open Championship, and the win at the rain-shortened Barclays, DJ has done no better than T23 since Lacava joined up with him. I'm not beating on DJ -- some of the problems have simply been a single bad shot hit at a key moment like that OB at the Open, and I've heard that he's working on some changes in his swing (aren't they all?) -- but you have to think Lacava expected more. The results just haven't been there.

Most everyone feels that DJ has more ability than Adam Scott, and you have to think Lacava believes he's a better caddie than Steve Williams, but there's no question that Scott made a quantum leap within a month of hiring Williams. (Again, I'm not crediting Williams with improving Scott's ability to strike the ball. But Adam's strategy on the course has definitely improved.) Lacava has to be disappointed in DJ's performance, and then Tiger had this convenient opening...

I'll be interested to see how DJ handles this. There are rumors that the two just didn't "click," which I suppose is to be expected after such a high-profile breakup. But if DJ didn't expect this, I have to wonder if he'll throw this off as easily as he did his major losses. Realizing you made some bad shots isn't the same as having a top-ranked caddie leave you for a struggling player, no matter how much of a superstar he is.

And of course it's pretty clear that neither Fred Couples nor Butch Harmon, who originally set up this deal, expected it. This should certainly make the Presidents Cup more interesting for more than the competition!

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