Could Rory have won the Masters with a better caddy?

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The role of the caddy has evolved. They don't simply carry the clubs anymore. But do they do enough? Tom Irwin believes Rory McIlroy's caddy made mistakes which could have cost him the Masters. James Savage disagrees.

TI – Could Rory have won the Masters with a better caddy?

JS – I don’t think so. Caddies don’t miss six-foot putts

TI – But they should say – stop panicking you are loads better than everyone, hit in the middle of the green and make a birdie

JS – Do you think Rory’s caddy, JP Fitzgerald, was saying: “Panic! Hit it over the back of the green and make a double?”

TI – I’m not sure what he was saying but he should have been saying: “Hit it in the middle of the green.” I am talking more about 13 where he ended up in the stream.

JS – On 13 he had to go for eagle. He was at least six shots back at that stage. It was inches away from being perfect. I don’t see caddying as a big factor as to why he didn’t win the Masters. He had a shocking second round and left himself far too much to do over the weekend. There is an argument to say if he had played the par 5s better he would have been in contention but his putting was average all week.
If a caddy doesn’t feel like he can tell his player when he is making a mistake, he is not doing his job properly TI – You would also be a rubbish caddy. If he hits in the middle of the green on 13 and misses his putt, he is also inches from being perfect, but he makes birdie not bogey, and he still might make eagle. You can’t make eagle from a stream. It is a well proven fact. If he makes birdie/eagle there, he is much more likely to play 15 properly, hit in the fairway off the tee, and in the fat bit on the right of the green and make another birdie instead of a bogey. So worst case, he gets in four better than he did, and best case six better. If he posted five under that would have had a chance as it would have been an early number for the rest to worry about.

JS – There are a lot of ifs and buts there. We have all seen how good Rory can be and if he fancies going for the green in two, should you try and talk him out of it?
TI – Yes. His caddie should also have been telling him to hit in the front bunker on 4 on Friday where he would have made four maximum from, instead of nearly killing Adam Scott and getting himself flustered in the bushes. 

JS – I agree with you there. JP should have been putting a 4 iron in his hand from the start. That was one of the bizarre shots of the week.

TI – The role of a caddy has evolved from bag carrier to lining up putts. But some players would be better off with a sports psychologist alongside them. Why can no one, bar vintage Tiger, lead from the front? Often when players get in front these days they can’t handle the pressure. It should be easier to win with a two shot lead rather than coming from two shots back but that’s not usually the case. The very best caddy would say go for this green, hit it in the middle of that one. And crucially the player would listen.

JS – If a caddy doesn’t feel like he can tell his player when he is making a mistake, he is not doing his job properly. However, if a player feels really good about a particular shot and all the caddy does is put doubt in the player’s mind, there is a problem. Good caddies don’t win Major tournaments, good players do, despite what Steve Williams thinks. The caddy has a crucial part to play but if you don’t putt very well, you don’t win.


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