The Smartest Man In Golf?

Joe LaCava Tiger WoodsBy Tony Manfred

Joe LaCava might be the smartest man in golf. In May 2011 LaCava was hired by 25-year-old Dustin Johnson. Johnson was widely regarded as America's Next Great Golfer, and it seemed like an ideal gig for the veteran caddie.

That summer Johnson won the Barclays and finished in the top 10 three times (including a second-place finish at the British Open), and was seemingly on his way to the upper-echelon of world golf.

But in October 2011, LaCava abruptly jumped ship, leaving Johnson and going to work with Tiger Woods. It was a huge gamble that took two years to pay off.

In October 2011, Woods was at rock bottom. He had just finished a brutal summer, missing the cut in the PGA Championship, and he hadn't won a tournament since his mistress scandal exploded two years earlier.

In addition, he had just had a very public breakup with long-time caddie Steve Williams.

So basically, LaCava ditched one of the most promising young players in the sport and hitched his wagon to an aging, perpetually-injured fallen star who hadn't won anything in years.

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He said at the time (via ESPN):

"Johnson is a great player and a great kid. He was fantastic to me. He couldn't have been any nicer. He played great. The guy won a tournament, finished second, finished fourth in four months. The kid can play. There's no comparison between the two as far as that, it's just that it's Tiger Woods.''

LaCava's faith that Tiger Woods would once again be Tiger Woods paid off.

Now Tiger is the No. 1 player in the world again. He has six wins in 2012-13, while Johnson has two.

By all accounts, LaCava is a laid-back, professional guy. He worked for Fred Couples for years, and you rarely seem him make any news whatsoever (unlikely Williams).

But he made a big professional gamble by picking Woods over Johnson, and now he's looking mighty smart. According to the New York Times, caddies get 10% of their boss' prize money if they win, 8% if they come in the top 10, and 6% if they make the cut. Tiger finished 2nd in winnings last year with $6.1 million (Johnson made $3.3 million), and he's 2nd in winnings this year with $2.6 million (Johnson has made $1.3 million).

So he made the right move.
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D House

I grew up with Joe Lacava in Newtown Ct many years ago when things and life were much simplier.
We played Little Leauge together and Joe always had a great and easy way about himself back then,
It\'s been many years since I have seen Joe, but I know he\'s pretty much the same guy and I think this
is what Tiger really needed at this time of his life.
D P House

March 27 2013 at 6:17 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
D House

I grew up with the Joe Lacava in Newtown Ct along time ago. Joe was a gentleman (as was his father)
Joe has always had a great way about him and I can tell he has not changed. His great work ethic(when
we played Little Leauge together) has rubbed off on Tiger and is what Tiger needed upright his life.
d house

March 27 2013 at 5:58 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
prubin112

I don't think he took such a big risk going with Tiger. Tiger wasn't going to forget how to play golf forever and I would say Mr. La Cava was more opportunistic than anything else.

March 27 2013 at 11:09 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
smbaker22

Tiger's caddy does not get 10% if he wins.

March 27 2013 at 11:03 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
steeeeeeevoo

make that another 10% for Tigers last week Victory

March 27 2013 at 10:47 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
rick52259

Caddying isn't all that glamorous of a job unless with 1 of the top players. It is very long days and hard work.

All of them or should say most of them get a regular salary per week and the %'s are on top of that.

After they did a book together Williams and Tiger, if Williams would've have just waited Tigers time off and not asked to caddy for Adam Scott, he'd still be with Tiger.

March 27 2013 at 10:42 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
jeffreysine

The worlds best golfer is only your opinion. Too which I say peeeeetttthhhh.

March 27 2013 at 10:37 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to jeffreysine's comment
Rick & Bev

Yes, their opinion, based on a record of winning that is not arguable. This year, 5 tourneys, 3 wins. Peeeetttthhhh? I don't think so.

March 27 2013 at 10:41 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
am0714

The article talks about percentages, but not all caddies are paid that way. Greg Norman for example was famous for paying more than most golfers, with different percentages. I would imagine that a player like Tiger Woods does the same. He more than likely pays a higher guaranteed salary plus percentages. Don't forget these guys now get money just for showing up to some tournaments. If the writer interviewed a few caddies he would find that out. Nobody really knows how much this guy is making, but I'll bet it's plenty. And to the idiot below who talks of white meat, just go away will ya.

March 27 2013 at 10:32 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to am0714's comment
rrusrjr2

Players do not get appearance money for tournaments in the US. Against the rules of the PGA. Golfers do get appearance money if they go to some tournaments overseas. But not all US pros get appearance money overseas.
Caddies move around a lot from player to player, depending on how well or poorly the golfer plays. Caddies have lots of perks at tournaments, too, often get lease cars, and, they eat like royalty, just as well as their players. I know all this first hand, having been a pros caddie then marshaling at PGA tournaments. And, caddies are notorious wild guys, with players often tagging along for fun with the bag otters.

March 27 2013 at 1:20 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Jim Marcum

Wonder why Tiger prefers white meat to dark meat?

March 27 2013 at 10:08 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Jim Marcum's comment
rick52259

Maybe because he's half white.

March 27 2013 at 10:24 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Jorge

Tiger is trying to portray himself as a family man instead of the adulterer he is. All for money!

March 27 2013 at 10:08 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Jorge's comment
soariation

You know I'm not so sure that Tiger actually does care entirely about the money. I'm sure he wouldn't be playing the sport if it was worth nothing but the man really does have a passion for the game.

March 27 2013 at 10:25 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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