Ex-NHLer Ray Whitney caddies at Olympic golf tournament
These may be the Summer Olympics, but there's been an unmistakable NHL flavor to the Rio games.
Islanders owner Jon Ledecky was spotted in Rio de Janeiro cheering on his niece, American swimmer Katie Ledecky. Triple medalist swimmer Penny Oleksiak has lifted the profile of her brother, Dallas Stars defenseman Jamie Oleksiak. And Canadian basketball star Kia Nurse could leave Brazil even more famous than her brother, Edmonton Oilers blueliner Darnell Nurse.
And now a former NHLer is making his own unique mark on the Games.
When Canadian golfer Graham DeLaet walked onto the course on Thursday, he had a 1,000-point scorer on his bag: Ray Whitney.
Subbing for DeLaet's regular caddie Jules Trudeau, who backed out over Zika concerns, the 2006 Stanley Cup winner helped DeLaet to a 5-under 66 in the opening round of the Olympic golf tournament.
“A little nerve-wracking at times,” Whitney told the Raleigh News & Observer. “But pretty smooth. It was actually easier when the tournament was going on than in the practice rounds. You're getting a lot of information then. Now you're hitting and you're moving on. It wasn't bad, just trying to keep up. They move at a pretty good pace and you're fumbling around with clubs and hoofing the bag and headcovers and you've got to get the yardage.”
Although the two regularly golf together in Arizona, the experience left Whitney, who is now a scout for the Carolina Hurricanes, with a greater appreciation of DeLaet's abilities.
“He hit a 3-iron on 14 (a 229-yard par-3) to 12 feet or whatever it was,” Whitney said. “You walk up there and you're like, 'I know I can't do that.' When the wind picks up, you really can tell how good they are. Then they start flighting it a little bit and you realize, not only can they hit it where they want it, they can hit it at the height they want it. It was a good day.”
Whitney said DeLaet asked him for advice "probably four times" and tried to downplay his influence. Naturally, DeLaet knocked him down another peg or two when he got the chance.
“I probably would have done better with Jules,” he joked. “(Whitney) did great out there. We had a lot of fun. He kept me nice and loose. We had a good time."