Video: Maybe Rory McIlroy should let his caddie play 17 for him…
By Stephanie Wei under Humor

Just kidding, of course. Well, Rory did knock his shot into the water and ended up making a double-bogey in the first round on Thursday.

During Wednesday’s practice round, Rory McIlroy’s looper J.P. Fitzgerald knocked it closer than his boss on No. 17 at TPC Sawgrass during the annual caddies closest-to-the-pin contest at The Players Championship.

Rory and J.P. had a side bet of their own. The wager? Rory had to carry his bag for the rest of the hole.

What’s more, they had pride and bragging rights on the line until the next year. J.P., who as you can see in the video above has a solid swing, hit it to about ten feet (at least from my estimate from afar), pin-high with a 9-iron from 132 yards, about 13 yards forward from where the pros tees.

The caddie contest is, by far, it’s the most entertaining and amusing event on Tour. There’s tons of trash-talk and heckling — like Graeme McDowell saying, “not thinking about the shanks…” as J.P. was setting up, but the looper handled it better than a pro.

Two years ago, Rory McIlroy’s caddie J.P. Fitzgerald straight-up shanked his shot 30 yards right, where there’s a small island (which I think is simply for aesthetics). From the sounds of it, the awful shot was the funniest thing in the world and J.P. still gets a hard time about it, especially since he’s actually a stick himself.

Ken Comboy, McDowell’s caddie, was the last to hit, and he pushed it right (a near shank) and almost matched J.P.’s effort from 2010, but his ball came up just short, leading to a chorus of groans.

Good times.

Besides the jug of a money — donated by the players, who on average throw in a hundred or two  — the winner gets an iPad. Well, this year, Robert Garrigus decided to up the ante and said he’d toss in a 60″ TV, as well. When I asked why, the reply was, “Because he’s Garrigus.” Translation: He’s incredibly generous.

Maybe it’s karma, but turned out his caddie, Brent Henley, won the contest! Here are the results for the top 4.

  1. Brent Henley (caddies for Robert Garrigus), 3 feet, 7 inches
  2. Colin Burwood (caddies for Robert Allenby), 4 feet, 8 inches
  3. Damon Green (caddies for Zach Johnson), 5 feet, 10 inches
  4. Chad Reynolds (caddies for Nick Watney), 6 feet, 9 inches


Congrats to Brent and kudos to Garrigus!


Other highlights…

There are usually two or three groups backed up on the 17th tee, so there’s tons of time for laid-back banter (especially if you need to finish 60 anonymous player surveys by the end of the week and I’m beyond thankful for all the guys who have humored me!) and shenanigans.

*There was a synchronized golf performance. The 7-some of Harris English, Brian Harman, James Driscoll, Graham DeLaet, Matt Every, Colt Knost and Ryan Palmer all hit their tee shots at the same time. Miraculously, all seven balls found the green. Almost. Palmer’s was just barely in the rough, but hey, it stayed dry. Pretty impressive. Here’s the video via @jd3golf:


*Freak show alert! James Driscoll’s caddie, Bill Harke, threw a golf ball onto the 17th green from about 130 yards. No joke. He’s got a hell of a left arm. I saw it with my very own eyes. Initially, when I noticed he was trying to hit the green, I thought to myself, “Ha! No way!” So I turned away for a moment before a load roar erupted. The ball landed on the front of the green and start to roll toward the hole. It looked like it was going to go in for a moment, but it almost did — just two feet away.

Amazing. Unfortunately, no one has video footage of it, but there must have been at least two dozen witnesses.