May
5
2011
Dustin Johnson Launches Caddie Auditions
By Stephanie Wei under PGA Tour

Dustin Johnson and longtime looper Bobby Brown split up two weeks ago

After parting ways with Bobby Brown, his caddie of three years, Dustin Johnson has started tryouts for a replacement at the Wells Fargo Championship. Last week at the Ballantine’s Championship in South Korea, TaylorMade-adidas Vice President of Tour Operations Keith Sbarbaro filled in. So, who’s on DJ’s bag at Quail Hollow? Dan Quinn is a former NHL player who split time on Ernie Els’ bag with Els’ regular looper, Ricci Roberts (this year Els has Mike Kerr full time). And next week for The Players Championship, Johnson has the legendary Joe LaCava, Fred Couples’ caddie of 20-plus years, on loan, which, in my opinion, seems like the perfect match.

When news broke that Dustin and Bobby had called it quits, I wondered how many PGA Tour loopers would drop their bags to take his. The caddie of a top-20 player estimated “150” (but he wouldn’t be one of them).

Dustin said on Tuesday he’s looking for a “fairly experienced caddie.” Perhaps, more important, though, he wants someone he considers a buddy out there with him.

“You’ve just got to find a good one and one that you enjoy spending time with on the course and someone that your personality matches up well with,” said Johnson. “You know, as far as me and Bobby, we’re still really good buddies and still talk to him all the time, just it was time for both of us to make a change.”

No question LaCava meets the experience requirement (and actually, exceeds it). He’s arguably the best looper on Tour, though his schedule is now somewhat limited on the regular and 50-plus tours because of Freddie’s back problems.

LaCava is one of the most respected loopers on tour. Though separated by a generation, Freddie and Johnson are similar in their laid-back demeanor and fondness for having a good time away from the course. Those who know Freddie wouldn’t describe him as the most dependable guy in the world (and I don’t mean that in a negative way), but LaCava managed to make sure Fred showed up to the tee on time (to my knowledge) for two decades.

Question is, would Fred give LaCava the nod to go to DJ? It seems like it’d make sense since it’s a great career opportunity for LaCava and Fred is near the end of his. Of course, this is assuming Johnson and LaCava get along.

DJ says he’s just trying out some guys and he’ll see how it goes. I told him if it doesn’t work out with any of them, I’d take the job. He laughed. I told him I wasn’t joking.