The Mad Scientist requires a new lab assistant. Just hours before Bryson DeChambeau was due to tee it up in defence of his Rocket Mortgage Classic, long-time caddie Tim Tucker walked out on his startled employer.
Inevitably, DeChambeau’s management team insisted the split was mutual, but sources indicate that the pair had an argument during Wednesday’s pro-am in Detroit and it proved to be the straw that broke the bagman’s back.
Tucker first met DeChambeau when the Californian was 15 years old and has been at the 27 year-old’s side for all eight of his wins, including last year’s US Open. They won the Arnold Palmer Invitational in March but recently the world No 6 has experienced middling form, with just one top 10 his last seven starts.
At the US Open two weeks ago, DeChambeau was in touch in the final round until a disastrous back nine which he played in an eight-over 44. He put that down to “bad luck” but evidently that collapse raised tensions that reached a head in Detroit. In Tucker's absence the controversial golfer was forced to call in Ben Schomin, who works for Cobra Golf, DeChambeau’s equipment maker.
With less than two weeks until the Open Championship at Royal St George’s, DeChambeau will be desperate to sign a replacement. However, it will be difficult to find a candidate as suited as Tucker. He is believed to be the only caddie who uses the vector green-reading system preferred by DeChambeau, and has a similarly meticulous and mathematical approach. Furthermore, Tucker has a prodigious work ethic and a calm temperament.
“Tim is the biggest grafter out there and they obviously had a lot of success together and he would have made a lot of money,” one caddie, who wished to remain anonymous, told Telegraph Sport. “But it says plenty about Bryson and his demanding, perfectionist charcater that nobody is too surprised that Tim quit. There will be loads of caddies interested, but it is regarded as the toughest gig out there.”
DeChambeau has never made a secret of the importance of Tucker. “He’s super-easy and cool and collected. Whatever I say, it doesn’t bother him at all,” DeChambeau said a few months ago.
“Tim has meant the world to me. There’s been some rifts, but that’s any relationship; that’s any interaction with another human being. Fortunately enough, he loves me enough, and I love him enough to be able to say, ‘Hey, you know, we are going to get this together no matter what, and we are going to persevere and push through and work as a team to be the best we can.”
Brooks Koepka was quick to rib his nemesis. The four-time major champion has an ongoing feud with DeChambeau, mainly conducted over social media. Less than a hour after the story was broken by nolayingup.com, Koepka tweeted: “Couldn’t do it without my guy Rick [Elliott]! Best friend and greatest caddie too.”
At the Irish Open, Rory McIlroy birdied two holes coming in, but could only post a 72 to trail first-round leader Lucas Herbert. The Australian shot an eight-under 64 at Mount Juliet.