Substitute caddie Joe Collins proved his mastery of the craft at
Joe Collins is the dean of Augusta caddies, but his colleagues
use a more exalted title. "Joe is the Man," says another caddie.
"When Michael Jordan plays here, he asks for Joe."
At the Masters, Colin Montgomerie summoned Collins. The Scotsman
arrived looperless--his regular caddie was injured--and asked
club officials for the best man in the yard. That's Collins, 45,
who has worked the tournament for Jay Haas and Ed Sneed and
carried Jim Jamieson to a third-place finish in 1973. He was at
the caddie shack when a friend told him to stay put: He might
get Montgomerie's bag. "I didn't dare move," Collins says. "To
get his bag, somebody who can win, that pumps you up."
Montgomerie's usual caddie, Alistair McLean, had an ailing back.
"I think he got it from carrying his wallet," joked Monty, whose
3,899,774 [British pounds] in European tour earnings since 1993
meant pounds aplenty for McLean. Collins proved himself during a
practice round, then got the good news that he'd won a week's
work with "Colin," whose name he pronounced with a long o.
One of eight brothers and sisters, Collins got his start in golf
by picking up range balls at Augusta Country Club. "I learned to
caddie there," he says of Augusta National's neighbor, "then
graduated to here." Like other caddies, he gets to play the
course once a year--"shot 77 one day," he says--but his vocation
is lending a strong back and a sharp eye to members and visitors
including Mario Andretti and presidential adviser Vernon Jordan
as well as Michael Jordan, who carded "80 or 81 from the back
tees" with his help, Collins says.
Last week he added 27 years' worth of local knowledge to
Montgomerie's cause. Monty first asked for advice at the par-3
4th hole during Thursday's first round. "'Straight up the hill,'
I said," Collins recalls, "and he made it." At the 16th,
studying a sweeping 40-footer with more than a yard of break,
the caddie urged his man to play "even more break than it
looks." Monty obeyed, and when the ball crept into the cup, he
laughed out loud.
Montgomerie stayed in the hunt all week. He tied for eighth and
won $89,500, of which Collins can expect 10%, quite a boost from
his usual fee of $45 a round. "Joe did O.K.," the Troonsman said
of his caddie-for-a-week. "He's a good lad, isn't he?"
NOT KISSING COUSINS
After Atlanta's East Lake Golf Club fell into ruin, developer
Tom Cousins bought the place in 1994 and vowed to make it "a
model" of urban renewal. Cousins spent $23 million of his own
money to refurbish Bobby Jones's old home club. He led a
public-private partnership that spent millions more rebuilding
the East Lake Meadows housing project, an eyesore beside which
the club resembled a misplaced emerald. The PGA Tour awarded
this year's Tour Championship to East Lake, which will also host
the 2001 U.S. Amateur.
On March 27 two caddies sued the club for job discrimination.
Andy Portilla, who is Hispanic, and Richard Trent, who is black,
say they were singled out for drug tests and unjustly fired.
Trent calls his treatment at East Lake "total injustice. They
didn't drug-test any white people." Portilla, who left a job as
an assistant pro at Bent Pine Golf Club in Vero Beach, Fla., to
work at East Lake, says minority caddies were paid less than
whites, excluded from all-white staff meetings and kept from
advancing in the club's training and scholarship programs. Fired
in 1996 for what East Lake official Greg Giornelli calls
"serious and repeated" offenses, Portilla filed a grievance with
the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. After rejecting
what he calls an "insulting" $15,000 offer from East Lake to
drop his complaint, he joined Trent in suing the club.
"Their allegations are false," says Jim Gerber, a top teaching
pro and former director of golf at East Lake. Giornelli calls
Portilla and Trent "disgruntled employees trying to extort
money." Yet Tour pro Brandel Chamblee says that Portilla, a
veteran Tour caddie who'll carry his bag this week at the MCI,
"is a magnificent person and fine caddie. I never met anyone
with a stronger character."
Portilla says Tour caddying wasn't his goal: "My dream was to be
club pro at East Lake."
THE SHAG BAG
Straight Shooter: Though notably cool toward Fuzzy Zoeller at
the Masters, Tiger Woods shrugged off questions about their
supposed feud, claiming that the press has exaggerated it. After
Woods left the driving range last Thursday, his caddie, Fluff
Cowan, was overheard saying the same thing more succinctly.
"F--- the media," said Cowan.
Amen's Room: For months there was talk of Tiger-proofing Augusta
National, but the most significant addition this year was a pair
of rest rooms near the 12th tee. The bathrooms, which cost a
reported $1 million, feature slate walls, cathedral ceilings and
full-length mirrors. "Very pretty," said one user of the ladies'
room. The sparkling men's room, with its 17 urinals and teams of
janitors, was surely the best place to take relief in Amen
Corner. Unfortunately, Wednesday's deluge led to a sewage backup
beneath the rest rooms, and that wasn't azaleas the fans were
smelling on Thursday.
Flyover: Ernie Els on Woods's driving distance: "Where my drive
finishes, his ball lands."
Hang Time: "Man, we haven't seen nothing yet," said Gary Player
at Augusta. "We are going to get a Michael Jordan-type athlete
who'll carry it 30 yards past where Tiger lands. In the next 40
years we'll see a guy drive the 1st green here."
Can't Cut It: Tom Lehman did some soul-searching after missing
the cut at Augusta. "For the first time since I came out on
Tour, I'm not hitting the ball square," said Lehman, who called
his tie for second at last month's Players Championship a fluke.
"A four-month slump like this makes you want to put your clubs
Bargain City: Fans at the National grabbed souvenirs including
official Masters Christmas tree ornaments ($37), copper
bracelets ($24) and baby shoes with spikes ($24), but that
wasn't all you could buy in Augusta last week. Golf nuts who
resorted to classified ads and garage sales could pick up a set
of 1954 Walter Hagen clubs for $200, a 1996 Yamaha golf cart for
$2,300 or a condo near the course for $69,900. At Bobby Jones
Ford, a dealership that takes its name from the Bobby Jones
Expressway and whose showroom is a replica of the Augusta
National clubhouse, salesman Bud Lawrence was talking up a 1999
F-350 Lariat, "the Cadillac of pickups," sticker price $38,135.
"But, hey, it's Masters week," said Lawrence, "and I'll do what
it takes to put you in this truck--even take you to dinner where
Greg Norman eats."
Hooked: John Westwood, a Worksop, England, math teacher whose
son won at New Orleans two weeks ago but barely made the cut at
the Masters, strolled Augusta National musing on his coming
retirement. "I might start a worm farm," said the avid
fisherman. "I sold worms when I was a student and made 100
[British pounds] a week. The only reason Lee and I took up golf
is that he didn't enjoy fishing." Asked where he collected bait
worms, the senior Westwood shook his head and said, "Trade
THE UNSINKABLE SAM SNEAD
Golf fans worried when Sam Snead, 85, was stricken with what
appeared to be a stroke last week. During his annual five-hour
drive to the Masters, Snead had gotten dizzy. "I'd eaten a bad
piece of chicken, and I upchucked a bit," he said, forthright as
ever. Less than 48 hours later, after a round of tests at
Augusta's University Hospital, he moseyed past the clubhouse at
Augusta National and hit his ceremonial tee shot on schedule.
"Dad's tough," said Jack Snead, his son and caddie. "As a kid,
he had his tonsils taken out in a dentist's chair." Jack
recalled how his father, who bogeyed the 18th hole of a playoff
to lose the 1947 U.S. Open, "would lay abed thinking about
that." He said Sam enjoys tutoring "younger guys like Chi-Chi
and Tom Kite" but would give his right arm to coach John Daly:
"He'd caddie for that guy if he could. He says, 'If I told John
Daly what club to hit every shot, and what kind of shot, he'd
win every time.'"
ASK A SILLY QUESTION
There were many intelligent exchanges between players and
reporters at Augusta. Then there were these Q and A's that
should have been DQ'd (plus what the player probably wanted to
Q: With all the young players...do you feel sometimes you have
to be seven-foot-one to keep them from taking you to the hoop?
Tom Kite: No, you don't have to be seven-foot-one, but you need
to make a few 20-footers. (I think you're confusing me with
Q: Could you expound on your parents?
Lee Westwood: Mum's Trish.... She's got down to a 21 handicap.
Q: Can she beat you?
Westwood: No. There's no doubt I'm the best in our family.
(I generally break 90, Einstein.)
Q: Will it be "the full monty" if you win?
Colin Montgomerie: I won't be doing that if I win, I can tell
you. (Unless Gary McCord lends me some bikini wax.)
Q: If God came down and said, "Tiger, you can win only one major
this year," which major would it be?
Tiger Woods: I would argue with Him and say, Why can't I have
all four? (Dude, I'd ask Him to part your hair with a lightning
Where Fans Could Get Nicked by a Stray Cannonball
Denizens of Hilton Head Island--please don't call them
Hiltonheads--take their local Heritage seriously. Each year
schoolkids play hooky during the week of the MCI (ne Heritage)
Classic to fill volunteer jobs at the tournament. Meanwhile,
their parents, aunts and uncles are scrambling to accommodate
golfers, caddies and fans as Hilton Head's population briefly
swells from 30,000 to an estimated 100,000. The Classic's
defending champion, in this case Nick Price, fires a cannon to
open tournament week, which brings an estimated $44 million to
the local economy. The Citadel's bagpipe corps drops by from
nearby Charleston, putative home of America's first golf and
country club, to serenade players and fans with Scottish
standards. It's enough to make Heritage-minded locals think
they've been kilt and gone to heaven.
The PGA Seniors' Championship is older than most of the field.
Jock Hutchison won the first PGA Seniors, held at Augusta
National in 1937 when the course was four years old. The
Scottish-born Hutchison used what reporters called his
"enchanted mashie" to win the 1920 PGA and 1921 British Open.
For decades he and his friend Fred McLeod, the 1908 U.S. Open
champ, were the annual first pairing at the Masters, where they
once finished 18 holes in 140 minutes. "It does no good to
fiddle around before making a shot," said Hutchison. A resident
of Golf, Ill., he shot 66 at age 66 in 1950, was elected to the
PGA Hall of Fame in 1959 and died in 1977. By then Sam Snead had
become king of the Seniors' Championship. He won the tournament
six times between 1964 and '73 and later followed in Hutchison's
footsteps as one of the ceremonial leadoff men at the Masters.
What do these players have in common?
Hurst (3rd on the LPGA money list), Ward (6th) and Robbins (8th)
are the only Americans in the top eight.