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Is Joe LaCava Tiger's Best Choice of Caddie?


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Joe LaCava  

69 members have voted

  1. 1. Please read the first post, and then answer the question: Is Joe LaCava Tiger's best choice of caddie?

    • Yes
      34
    • No
      35


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I didn't include an "I don't know" in the choices in the poll above because that's the only answer any of us should choose. Hell, even Tiger and Joe himself don't necessarily know if he's the best choice - Tiger just uses the available information to arrive at a decision.

But I've been thinking for awhile now that LaCava may not be the best for him.

Stevie Williams was, of course, Tiger's caddie for 13 of 14 majors. He split off from Tiger not too long after the Thanksgiving night stuff in 2009. One of Stevie's best qualities, IMO, was that he didn't take shit from Tiger, and he'd step up and let himself be heard when he had something to say. He made Tiger hit a 60° wedge instead of (IIRC) a 56° wedge on the 18th at Torrey Pines in 2008, going so far as to say something like "I know how much this means to you, and if you don't hit the shot you want, fire me on the spot, but I feel that strongly it's a 60 here."

The recent Tiger Woods biography pointed out that LaCava stood by and did virtually nothing while Tiger was walking around and surveying his options and ultimately dropped in the wrong spot on the 13th hole at Augusta in 2013. In fact, I've almost never seen Joey LaCava step in and talk to Tiger when the situation may warrant it - to cool Tiger down when he's running hot, to get him to focus when he's getting sloppy, etc.

Williams could be seen doing these things - and more - all the time. He'd engage. He'd put his opinion out there. He'd tell Tiger - again this is documented in the book - to get his head on straight and to pay attention, or whatever.

Joe just seems to be a bag carrier.

Maybe that's what Tiger wants. Maybe he has lost some of his drive and passion and just wants to be a happier, less focused guy on the course. Maybe he doesn't want to have a guy getting in his face demanding something during his rounds.

I don't know. None of us do.

But the poll intentionally only has "yes" or "no" as possible answers.

So vote.

I voted "no." I think Tiger needs a more forceful, direct, in-your-face type of caddie. I think he needs to be challenged more, I think he needs to be held in check more, and I think he needs someone who can slap him around a little bit when he starts to get off track.

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I know LaCava personally. We aren't buddies or anything, but I have played golf with him a couple times at his favorite course in CT, where he lives one town over in Southbury. (I was a member there f

Some people say Steve is abrasive, but I've met Steve and played golf with him and he is a kind, intelligent, and amiable person dedicated to his player. Steve has caddied for Peter Thompson, Greg Nor

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I voted yes, only because the first thing that came to my mind was Woody saying he was going it alone. Yes I know he may have meant just a swing coach, but maybe he meant more than just that. Perhaps he has adopted the lone wolf scenario.

With La Cava he has a caddy with immense knowlege of their various playgrounds. I'm pretty sure if Woody were to ask, La Cava would have the correct answer. Experience is big on their tour.

Also it seems Freddy, and Woody are good friends on, and off the course. That in itself helps to make La Cava a good fit. 

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5 minutes ago, Patch said:

I voted yes, only because the first thing that came to my mind was Woody saying he was going it alone. Yes I know he may have meant just a swing coach, but maybe he meant more than just that. Perhaps he has adopted the lone wolf scenario.

He meant a swing coach. And that "going it alone" thing was recent - LaCava has been on his bag since 2011.

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I voted no mostly for the reasons @iacas mentioned. No matter how good a player is he needs some direction, re-focusing and maybe just a kick to the butt sometimes. Maybe someone like Stevie would’ve said something before Tiger hit driver on #16 at the API? LaCava seems like a bellhop and nothing more.

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Just now, Vinsk said:

Maybe someone like Stevie would’ve said something before Tiger hit driver on #16 at the API?

Yeah.

Tiger said he wasn't committed to any shot there. I don't know that Stevie would have let his man hit that shot.

That indicates that Tiger is a different person now, too… but that may be all the more reason someone more like Stevie would be helpful.

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I voted yes, because I think Tiger is a different person and he doesn’t want a “Stevie” type of caddie. I think joe does what Tiger is asked of him, and I think it is what tiger at least thinks he needs from him. However, I will admit sometimes what we think we need isn’t what we need at all...

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3 hours ago, iacas said:

He meant a swing coach. And that "going it alone" thing was recent - LaCava has been on his bag since 2011.

Well, there's probably that loyalty thing to. I know they have been together for a while. Even won some tournaments I believe. There's plenty of articles out there about LaCava's loyalty, and Woody taking care of him money wise, when Woody wasn't playing. I remember one ESPN article where LaCava turned down offers to caddy for other pros. Woody even offered to help him find another bag. The guy is loyal to Woody, and Woody is probably glad he is. 

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I’m wondering if Joe ever regrets leaving DJ? I mean ...DJ took off and became number #1. I understand Joe having this loyalty thing....but he doesn’t seem to be much of a ‘force’ for Tiger like a Bones to Phil or Greller to Spieth.

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14 minutes ago, Vinsk said:

I’m wondering if Joe ever regrets leaving DJ? I mean ...DJ took off and became number #1. I understand Joe having this loyalty thing....but he doesn’t seem to be much of a ‘force’ for Tiger like a Bones to Phil or Greller to Spieth.

 

Tiger also went to #1 with LaCava. 8 wins in 2 seasons. 

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1 hour ago, Dr. Manhattan said:

 

Tiger also went to #1 with LaCava. 8 wins in 2 seasons. 

Yeah, 2011-2013 was decent with Tiger I guess...but then the hiatus came...I’m just saying he rather abruptly left DJ (Tiger didn’t even contact DJ IIRC) then Tiger’s injuries took over and DJ bloomed. Money probably isn’t a main issue with Joe (maybe?) I’m just saying he doesn’t seem like much more than a mule for Tiger so what’s the big ‘loyalty’ factor?

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For background on the topic, let's take a look at Tiger's performance from the past 10 years.

TigerLast10.jpg.93263f741e684ef6f250ed642141a1d7.jpg

In the last two years Stevie Williams was on bag for Tiger, he won zero tournaments. When W and W had their break-up in 2011, Joe LaCava stepped in.  The next two years, Tiger won eight tournaments. But, no wins since since 2013.

A contributing factor to the "no wins" has been his injuries, surgeries and recovery. 

4 hours ago, HJJ003 said:

I voted yes, because I think Tiger is a different person and he doesn’t want a “Stevie” type of caddie. I think joe does what Tiger is asked of him, and I think it is what tiger at least thinks he needs from him

When Tiger realized he was going to miss the 2016 season, he offered to set up LaCava with a rising young player. LaCava declined, saying he was Dedicated to Tiger. Loyalty means something, and the fact that Tiger offered to do this runs counter to the social media drumbeat that Tiger is somewhat ungrateful to others. On the caddie side, maybe LaCava finds this a positive encounter.

3 hours ago, iacas said:

In fact, I've almost never seen Joey LaCava step in and talk to Tiger when the situation may warrant it - to cool Tiger down when he's running hot, to get him to focus when he's getting sloppy, etc.

Maybe Tiger prefers more of a quiet presence, someone with 28 years experience who will carry the bag and let Tiger merge back into the PGA tour.

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5 minutes ago, WUTiger said:

Maybe Tiger prefers more of a quiet presence, someone with 28 years experience who will carry the bag and let Tiger merge back into the PGA tour.

Maybe Tiger needs more of a Steve Williams, challenge-him, in-his-face, aggressive sort of presence.

Tiger has always hit better shots when faced with a challenge. He's always performed when told he couldn't do something, or challenged to do so.

Tiger's hit a shot in contention at Arnold Palmer this year without being committed to it. Joey stood by while Tiger breached the rules in 2013. Etc.

I don't think those things happen with (someone like) Stevie on the bag.

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31 minutes ago, Vinsk said:

Yeah, 2011-2013 was decent with Tiger I guess...but then the hiatus came...I’m just saying he rather abruptly left DJ (Tiger didn’t even contact DJ IIRC) then Tiger’s injuries took over and DJ bloomed. Money probably isn’t a main issue with Joe (maybe?) I’m just saying he doesn’t seem like much more than a mule for Tiger so what’s the big ‘loyalty’ factor?

 

Tiger doesn’t pay his caddy the usual 10%. LaCava made a damn good salary to hang out at home with his family while Tiger wasn’t playing. 

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I look at it like Tiger knows what Tiger wants. When he had Williams he was young, ran hot at times, and wanted a "bubble" around him when he got to each venue. He wanted a "body guard" type confidant on the bag who'd get into it with him(maybe) and deal with fans, photographers etc  he didn't want to bother with or be bothered by. LaCava is a different personality, but so is Tiger now. He's older, and I think he feels he's as good as anybody out there now, but he's smart enough to know he isn't going to dominate these young guys like he did years ago. He's also been through a lot, including counseling the last few years, which may have shifted his priorities slightly. l'm not saying he's not out to win, I just don't think he's willing to approach it with the same focus anymore. That might be a good thing. LaCava was on the bag for a few wins before Tiger was out, and I don't think he's anywhere near a problem, or the problem. Everyone wants Tiger to hurry up and get back to what he was, instead of appreciating where he is at this point of his comeback. I don't think there's a lot to see here as far as the caddy situation.

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6 minutes ago, iacas said:

Tiger's hit a shot in contention at Arnold Palmer this year without being committed to it. Joey stood by while Tiger breached the rules in 2013. Etc.

Good point. And the creekside drop at the 2013 Masters is a glaring error.

I caddied last summer in a LPGA developmental tour event, and the night before the opening round I went over and over the rules for OB and hazard drops. I will definitely break the old caddie law of "Show up, keep up and shut up" if my outburst can save my player from a rules disaster.

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I would not judge Tiger-Stevie by 2010-11. Shangsgiving occurred at Thanksgiving, Tiger went through a public divorce and custody ... which in my experience, takes about 2 years from which to recover.

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