Bill Haas likely punched his ticket to the Presidents Cup matches with his Tour Championship/FedEx Cup victory Sunday night, and Joe LaCava had presumably made arrangements to be at Australia’s Royal Melbourne Golf Club in November as team member Dustin Johnson’s caddie.
Whether Tiger Woods stole the thunder from Haas with his Sunday night announcement that he had stolen DJ’s caddie or not (The Guardian’s Lawrence Donegan says he did not), Red Shirt’s choice for the third bagman of his professional career was hardly a shock. Many golf watchers had mentioned LaCava’s name as a potential replacement for the fired Steve Williams.
The gotcha moment purportedly belonged to Johnson, who, according to agent David Winkle, was caught off guard by the change.
Complete surprise. “Needless to say, Dustin and I were completely surprised, as they have enjoyed a great relationship and have been very successful together,” Winkle told the Associated Press’ Doug Ferguson. “Nonetheless, we think highly of Joe, both as a caddie and a person, which is why he was hired in the first place. We wish him nothing but the best with his new employer.”
Even more perturbed by the way things went down was one of Woods’ former swing coaches, Butch Harmon, who — Donegan reported — was the first to break the story about the Woods-LaCava hookup.
“The thing that bothered me the most was [Woods] not calling Dustin and asking if he could talk to Joe,” Harmon, who set LaCava up with Johnson, said on Sky Sports during its airing of the FedEx Cup finale, according to Donegan. “That’s the way it’s done. I’m a little disappointed with the way Tiger handled it. But I’m not surprised.”
No word on exactly how unexpected the caddie switch was for Johnson himself, who won last month’s The Barclays event with LaCava as his looper. The five-time PGA Tour winner reportedly got the word from his now-ex-luggage handler after the Tour Championship ended last night, according to Ferguson.
In any case, it could be a “hail hail, the gang’s all here” moment when Woods’ past and current caddies get together at the Presidents Cup (Mike Cowan now works for Woods’ squad-mate Jim Furyk and Williams carries the bag for International player Adam Scott). Or it could make for an awkward first team unity meeting when Tiger, DJ, and Joe huddle up for Captain Fred Couples (LaCava’s long-time boss) in Australia.
Wild card. As for Haas, his dramatic playoff win over Hunter Mahan at the Tour Championship win probably tipped the Presidents Cup scales in his favor. Couples mentioned the son of assistant captain Jay Haas as one of three “obvious” options for his second wild-card pick for the team (Woods was the first). Captain Fred will make his selections official on Tuesday at 5 p.m.