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Wie may not grasp caddie's value
By BOB HARIG
Published August 10, 2006
Perhaps Greg Johnston failed to follow the old caddie mantra: "Show up, keep up, shut up."
Having never missed one of Michelle Wie's tournaments since he started caddying for her last year, and having had no trouble carrying a golf bag over courses throughout the world for more than a decade, we'll have to assume the latter - although with Wie and her father, B.J., who knows?
Johnston was unceremoniously dumped as Wie's caddie this week, a big deal because any move the 16-year-old makes is analyzed.
And this one is puzzling.
Wie had six top-five finishes in seven starts this year on the LPGA Tour and was in contention in three of the four major championships. Her tie for 26th at the Women's British Open was her worst finish in two years on the LPGA Tour. Surely it couldn't be about that?
Like any young player, Wie's choice of caddie is crucial. After all, a caddie is the only person inside the ropes who, by the rules of golf, can be consulted. And yet, Wie appeared to want to go it all alone. So why even have an experienced caddie?
This became apparent in June at the 36-hole qualifier for the U.S. Open, where Wie would have made the men's field at Winged Foot if she had made anything on the greens. She was terrible that day, badly misreading putts. But she never consulted Johnston, who caddied for LPGA Hall of Famer Juli Inkster for years, including four major championship titles.
Afterward, however, B.J. Wie said they didn't want Johnston's help on the greens.
"We decided that we cannot depend on her caddie," B.J. Wie said. "She has to learn from her own mistakes. It's not going to help her become a great player."
Huh? Though every player-caddie relationship is different, the great ones often lean on their bag man for more than just carrying clubs.
Just ask Tiger Woods, who got an important read from Steve Williams coming down the stretch seven years ago when he won his second major championship at the PGA. Or ask Phil Mickelson, who is typically effusive in his praise of Jim MacKay, who often reads his putts.
Maybe Johnston got overbearing and offered unsolicited advice. Maybe Wie will go through caddies like John Daly does wives. Some players do.
It just seems strange at this point. And unnecessary.
And, perhaps, difficult to overcome. Because of her earning potential, Wie will attract other good caddies, but they ought to think about setting up a nice savings account, just in case.
More Wie: One thing Wie needs to do is study the rulebook. A player as advanced as she is ought to know that the club hitting an object in a hazard on the backswing is akin to grounding a club in the hazard - a no-no. Wie didn't know that at the Women's British Open, where she made contact with a piece of moss behind her ball during the backswing while she was about to play a shot out of the greenside bunker. She was given a two-stroke penalty after the round, turning 72 into 74.
Around golf: Seminole's Brittany Lincicome, who won her first tournament last month and is eighth on the LPGA Tour money list with $776,050, signed with an agent, Sterling Sports Management. ... There are no U.S.-born men in their 20s who are ranked among the top 50 in the world. Lucas Glover, 26, is the highest at No. 51. ... Despite being in position to make the U.S. Ryder Cup team, Brett Wetterick (10th in the standings), Jerry Kelly (12th), Tim Herron (16th) and Scott Verplank (18th) are skipping this week's International, the second-to-last tournament to count in the standings. Next week's PGA Championship offers double points. The top 10 through the PGA automatically make the team.