Nov
24
2010
Camilo Villegas’s Caddie to Play Q-School Final Stage, Faces Conundrum
By Stephanie Wei under PGA Tour

So here’s an intriguing Q-school story — Camilo Villegas’s caddie Brett Waldman juggled a hectic schedule looping for a premier player and getting to the final stage this fall. Intern Kevin has been on this beat since pre-qualifying and regularly providing WUP with enthusiastic updates on Waldman’s progress (which, unfortunately, I failed to publish–my bad). His journey is mighty impressive, especially considering he only took a month to prepare and globe-trotted with Villegas right before second stage.

Intern Kevin also posed an interesting question: If Waldman, who is clearly very talented, has a poor finish at finals and only earns conditional status on the Nationwide Tour, does he keep his well-paid gig with Camilo or chase his dream?

The latter seems like the obvious choice, but it’s a bit more complicated. Conditional status on the NWT means limited starts and often last minute entries into a field. Some times players find out they don’t find out they’re in a field until Tuesday or Wednesday and have to traverse across the country to play a tournament without the aid of a practice round.

A fantastic AP report sheds light on Waldman’s inspiring story.

“Some of these guys who do it for a living, they play and practice all year through,” said Lance Bennett, the caddie for Matt Kuchar who was on the bag for Waldman the last two stages. “He picks his clubs up for one month and gets to the final stage.”

Oddly enough, it was at Orange County eight years ago that Waldman failed to get past the second stage of Q-school, deciding then to give up on his playing career and go to work as a caddie.

Why he decided to go back to school at this stage in his life remains a mystery.

With a family to raise and bills to pay, Waldman has earned a steady income as a caddie for his cousin, Tom Pernice Jr., for Ben Crane and most recently for Villegas. Encouraged by his wife and friends, he waited until the final hour to submit his application and $5,000 fee.

It was a long shot. He knew that.

“I never once thought about getting to the final stage,” Waldman said Monday night. “Playing the PGA Tour was always a dream of mine, but I didn’t know how realistic it would be with no practice and with a full-time job.”

Villegas earned over $3 million in 2010. A conservative estimate of Waldman’s share and weekly caddie salary would put him at $250,000. So, what to do? My guess is that he’s going to take his chances. Even with the most limited status, there’s no way a competitor can turn down the opportunity to play on a major tour. Worse comes to worse, there will be a bag for Waldman to lug in 2012. And best case scenario?–He’ll earn his PGA Tour card and playing alongside his former boss in a few months.