Stop me if you’ve heard this one: a PGA Tour golfer borrows the caddie of another pro who’s sidelined with injuries, and the healthy team goes on to win a golf tourney.
Nope — not the soap opera involving the Tiger Woods-Steve Williams-Adam Scott triangle. In this case, newly crowned PGA champ Keegan Bradley scooped up Steve “Pepsi” Hale, the regular looper for highly touted tour rookie Jamie Lovemark, who’s also Bradley’s good pal.
Great fit. “[Hale] was caddying for one of my best friends out here, Jamie Lovemark,” Bradley told reporters following his playoff victory in Sunday’s final round of the PGA Championship. “Once Jamie got hurt, I was making a caddie change and it just so happened to work out, and me and Pepsi have been a great fit.”
Bradley and Lovemark formed a fast friendship in the tour’s minor leagues, but Lovemark, the 2010 Nationwide Tour Player of the Year, has been on the disabled list with a herniated disc in his back for most of the 2011 season. The PGA rookie has since undergone back surgery and tweeted his followers on August 5 that the discectomy procedure to remove the injured disc “went well.”
In the meantime, Hale helped Bradley capture his first major championship.
“He’s a great guy. He’s very well prepared. He’s real quick with yardages, which I like,” Bradley said of the veteran Hale, who earned his nickname from his habit of swigging sodas and stashing cans of them in convenient places around golf courses. “He’s very calming out there to me because it feels like he’s comfortable, he knows what’s going on, and without Pepsi, a lot of the times out here I’d be a little lost. So we make a great team.”
Bradley has credited Hale with talking him into playing the Byron Nelson Championship in May instead of the Colonial the week before. The TPC Four Seasons Resort course must have suited Bradley’s game quite well, since he picked up his first PGA Tour win on the Irving, Texas, track over Memorial Day weekend.
Hale benefitted greatly from being on Bradley’s satchel that week as well. As the bagman for the Byron Nelson winner, Hale received an XLR-V Cadillac Escalade hybrid, which retails for $73,840. The prize was part of Cadillac’s first “Caddy for Caddie” promotion since 2008.
Who’s on the bag? Given the Bradley-Hale success, might Lovemark, who tweeted that he hoped to be back on the practice field within four to six weeks of his surgery (and planned to return to the tour full-time with a Major Medical Extension in January), have to find himself a new bagman? Hale, who has carried for PGA players on and off since 1989, returned the praise for his new, if temporary, boss, after Bradley came from five back with three holes to play on Sunday.
“This guy’s the gutsiest player I’ve ever worked for,” Hale told the Kansas City Star. “There’s no quit.”
Lovemark, by the way, was one of several professional golfers to weigh in on the Woods-Williams tiff.
“Anybody else find it weird that Stevie’s interview was longer than Adam’s?” he tweeted after Williams’ post-Bridgestone TV presser. “Adam won. I get it, Stevie was huge but come on CBS.”