'Haul' of Fame
with 'Fluff' Cowan
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'Haul' of Fame interview is now punctuated with a great win Sunday by Jim Furyk
at the 2003 U.S. Open in Chicago with Mike 'Fluff' Cowan on the bag.
I have to defer a bit here to mention that last week's performance by Tom
Watson, with a 65 in the first round with Bruce Edwards on the bag, and the
wonderful coverage by NBC of Bruce's battle with ALS and their
caddy/player relationship over the year's, as the Biggest and most important
Winner there last week at the U.S. Open. I'm sure that Fluff and Jim would
both defer as well that when it comes to life and death, golf itself, is just a
game folks -a Great game at that, but just a Game -None-the-less.
Thanks, NBC for reminding us all how fragile and precious human life is, and how
life and sport may, sometimes painfully, when cast in the correct 'light'
-transcend one another.
Q.) So how did you get into caddying on the PGA Tour?
A.) "I was working in the business
for a short time as an assistant pro at Martindale CC. In Auburn Maine, began in
March and I got fired in July, -5 months I was in the business, I got turned
loose, and a buddy of mine had just come back from California, and both of us
were unemployed and doing nothing and the tour was coming to Hartford Conn., and
so we said letís go see if we could get a job caddying on the PGA Tour."
Q.) You were always a pretty good player and I recall your wins in the Caddy Classic at Endicott where we used to play each Monday in September after the B.C. Open finished up on Sunday before. And also witnessed your occasional impromptu Ďclinicsí on the range with amateurs in pro-ams and a few times while you were working for Tiger!?
A.) "I could play some, as a 4 or a 2, "I won the caddy tournament in Endicott twice in my caddying career."
Q.) I recall your first win in 1980 at
the Buick Classic in Flint Michigan, caddying there myself that week. How many
wins there in your career with Peter Jacobson, in the 17 or so years you worked
Q.) I remember being at PGA at Valhalla in Louisville in 1996; I was waiting outside with some other caddies for our players when you happened on the scene. Someone said, "Fluff, where you been?!" You said you were back home in Columbus playing golf for a period of time and you kind of jokingly, semi-serious said something about that it might be time to do something else! You were working for Peter Jacobsen that week, but heíd been injured and wasnít playing much. Then a couple of weeks later I hear that Tiger Woods is going to turn pro after he tries to win his third consecutive U.S. Amateur, and will get 7 sponsors exemptions, the maximum allowed for a non tour member in one calendar year, to try and get enough money to get his tour card. And then I hear that youíre going to caddy for him! Howíd that whole thing come about?A.) "Peter withdrew midway through the round he was hurting so bad, on Friday, and we picked it up and went in, in the context of the conversation, Peter told me he didnít know when he was going to play again, but that he was tired of trying to play hurt, and that he wasnít going to play again until he was healthy, and he didnít know if that was 'gonna' take two weeks, or months or the rest of the year, but that he was done trying to play hurt. So I went home decided that I was going to wait it out for as long as I could, and if it turned out that he was going to be sidelined for an indefinite period of time, that then I would come back out and see if I could get something lined up with somebody. So I was at home when we got this phone call and it was Tiger Woods, he was on his way home from the Amateur heíd just won in Portland, Oregon. And through whatever grapevine he knew that Peter was planning on taking some time off, he asked me if Iíd be interested in working some weeks for him, and I said ĎYeah, thatíd be great" So I called Peter and told him about it, and he said yeah thatís great, go for it!"
Q.) But you were originally just planning to work for Woods and most likely still caddy for Pete when he healed up though, right?A.) "Yes. Pete told me "Iíll let you know when Iím gonna play again", and one thing I did say to Tiger that yes, Iíd be happy to work these weeks for him, that as long as there wasnít conflict with Peter that I could probably work all of these weeks for him, but that there was an outside chance that if something happened to pop up, if Peter decided to play somewhere, that I was going to have to work for Peter, and that he, (Tiger), would have to do something else that week, (Get another caddy). So, I had no intentions of leaving Peter when I agreed to go to work for Tiger."
Q.) I remember the atmosphere at Milwaukee when Tiger came out and they held that big press conference. We all didnít really know what he was going to do, and I donít think you or even Tiger himself was sure of how heíd perform. (Other than knowing he was going to give it his best.) But in seven weeks, if youíre not playing well for any reason then heíd have to go to the school that winter. At what point did you begin to think you'd have to keep caddying for this guy?
A.) "It was a few weeks into that stint that I kind of realized just how talented a player Tiger Woods was and was going to become, that I kind of thought ĎMy Godí, loyalty is a wonderful thing and I do believe in it, but I think that Ya know, I gotta kind of put that on the back burners and watch this kid play for a while, so I kinda decided it was time to make a move."
Q.) So how many years had you been with Pete at that time?
A.) "Oh, weíd been together
for 18 plus years."
A.) "Oh, that was very hard! We not only we were great friends but I was great friends with the whole family, I was with him through the birth of all his children, his whole family adopted me, I saw them all when they were very very young, his parents were like second parents to me, his father became a great friend to me, before he passed away. It was a hard decision to make, but we all get faced with hard decisions and you make the best of what youíve decide to do."Q.) We all thought the job was a very political and high-pressure caddy job and that it was going to have a beginning and an ending. This was a case of an up and coming great player and a pretty smart kid going after a veteran caddy, at a time when he really needed to maximize his chances, to get his card in those 7 weeks in 1996. But we all felt that there was a time limitation on how long this opportunity might last for you.
A.) "Heís a very
intelligent young man and heís surrounded in the golf world, with some very
intelligent people, and between himself and his father, and the others
associated with him, theyíve made some very sound decisions about him, his
business, and his golf.
you think youíre experience maximized those seven weeks, you won two of them,
and he finished, remarkably, got his card and in seven weeks he finished in the
top 30 money winners qualifying him for the year ending Tour Championship. And
you had him for his first major championship win, at Augusta the next April,
where you guys set the new tournament scoring record. I had to think that
your experience caddying there over the years was a big plus.
A.) "I remember one time pulling into Columbus Georgia, and I just about had enough gas to get there, and borrowed some money from Big Arty, so I could go and get something to eat."
a very good year eh, as that was the site of the old Southern Open, Green Island
CC. In September or October?!
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