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Since caddies were a hot topic this week, between Bryson DeChambeau parting ways with his and Brooks Koepka following with a pledge of thanks to his, it’s not surprising that a caddie story of interest also popped up on the PGA Tour Champions.
This one, however, doesn’t include as much drama.
Bernhard Langer switched gears at the last second, opting out of the upcoming British Open and instead choosing to play at the Dick’s Sporting Goods Open outside Binghamton, N.Y. on the Champions schedule. He didn’t mention if the stringent COVID regulations had anything to do with the decision, instead insisting that a schedule with four majors in five weeks — between the regular and senior circuits — would have been too much in such a short span.
The way he tells it, his normal caddie, Terry Holt, was simply booked.
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“When I told (Terry) that three weeks ago, he said he’s already made plans for family vacations and stuff, so that’s why Terry’s not here. He’ll be back next week,” Langer said.
Since he needed help for the week, Langer enlisted the services of renowned sports psychologist Fran Pirozzolo, who has worked with a variety of high-level sports franchises and players, including Langer and Billy Horschel.
“A friend of mine from Houston that I’m staying with, a long-term friend, over 30-year friend, Pirozzolo, he’s actually a sports psychologist and many other things,” Langer said. “He’s got four World Series rings working with
the New York Giants and he’s been a dear friend of mine for many years.”
How has it worked out?
Langer struggled a little on the back nine during Saturday’s second round, but overall he’s been his regular steady self, and he’s still right near the top of the leaderboard heading into the event’s final day. After a 71, Langer sits T-5 at 6 under for the tournament, five shots behind leader Ernie Els.
Pirozzolo, in fact, worked with the New York Yankees (sorry to correct you, Bernhard), helping the team to four titles in his six years, as well as the Texas Rangers and the Houston Texans. He also has time working with the Navy Seals on his resume, as well working as a training consultant for Evander Holyfield from 1990-1998.
And he brings plenty of local knowledge — Pirozzolo was an all-state wrestler for nearby Elmira Notre Dame High School in 1968, winning the New York State Catholic High School title at 154 pounds. He later was a Division III All-America running back at Wilmington College in 1971 and 1972.
He now lives in The Woodlands, Texas, just outside Houston, but Langer recognized the value he’d be getting in adding a piece to his team this week from a neighboring community.
“He grew up here, a half-hour from here,” Langer said. “He’s staying with his mother, and his brother lives here, so I said why not.”