Patrick Cantlay dishes on pace of play criticism, why he hired Tiger Woods’ former caddie, Joe LaCava
Patrick Cantlay has often been in the headlines recently, some days for better reasons than others.
The eight-time winner on the PGA Tour has become the focal point for fans and players upset with pace of play in professional golf, and Cantlay was back in the news once again this week ahead of the 2023 Wells Fargo Championship, this time for hiring the former longtime caddie of Tiger Woods, Joe LaCava, to carry his bag.
“He’s just a steady hand on the steering wheel. I know he’s been in every moment a caddie could be in and he’s just a good guy. So I’ve enjoyed the limited time that I’ve spent with him and feel confident that we’ll be a good team out there,” said Cantlay, who noted he hasn’t spoken with Woods about the move. “When I reached out to Joe, he said it was possible and ended up working out and I’m really happy about it.”
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Cantlay split with veteran caddie Matt Minister, who was on the bag when he won the 2021 FedEx Cup and was named the PGA Tour Player of the Year, following last month’s Zurich Classic of New Orleans.
“Yeah, we accomplished a lot together and I’m really proud of all we accomplished,” said Cantlay. “He’s a great friend of mine and we had a lot of good finishes together and a lot of wins. So I’m incredibly grateful to him, just needed a change.”
LaCava, 59, had been on the bag for Woods since 2011, and the pair claimed 11 official wins, including the 2019 Masters (as well as the 2011 Hero World Challenge, an unofficial event). He also subbed in as Cantlay’s caddie for the 2021 Northern Trust when Minister was out with COVID-19.
Patrick Cantlay looks on from the 16th tee during the first round of the Northern Trust, the first event of the FedExCup Playoffs, at Liberty National Golf Club on August 19, 2021 in Jersey City, New Jersey. (Photo: Sarah Stier/Getty Images)
When it comes to caddies on Tour, LaCava is as good as it gets. The same can be said for Cantlay, 31, who is currently ranked No. 4 in the world and has finished inside the top five three times this year, with an additional nine top-25 finishes in 11 starts. With that talent comes a spotlight, which illuminated his deliberate approach to the game that fans have had fun calling out over recent weeks.
Cantlay isn’t sure why more people are talking about slow play now, but he is confident that if there is a problem, it’s not because of him.
“If you really wanted to make guys play faster, you would put the tees up and you would put easier hole locations and the greens would roll at 10 if you really wanted it to, and you hope it never blew more than 10 miles an hour,” he explained. “When you get really tricky days and the greens are really fast and the hole locations are on lots of slope, it’s going to take a longer time to play.”
“But like I’ve said before, rounds on Tour have pretty much taken the same amount of time for a number of years now and I don’t think they’re going to set up the golf course in a way, like I said, to make rounds, you know, go a lot faster.”
PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan is on hand this week for the Tour’s ninth designated event of the season, and he told Cantlay the Zurich Classic, a team event that featured an alternate-shot format for the final round, finished 24 minutes ahead of schedule.
“He said no one was complaining that they finished too early,” Cantlay quipped.
Cantlay isn’t concerned about whether or not he’s criticized for his pace of play, but he is rather concerned about the proposed rollback of the golf ball. A representative from the USGA reached out to get his opinion on the idea and the UCLA grad didn’t hold back: “I think it’s a bad idea.”
“I don’t think that it would help the game. I think bifurcation’s really bad for the game,” he explained. “I think one of the best things about our game is that all the people that play at my home club can play the exact same equipment that I do and that’s different than pretty much any other sport.”
“I imagine that the best players are still going to be the best players. If anything, it probably gives more advantage to the guys that hit it far,” said Cantlay. “If they dialed it back how they’re talking about, there’s a lot of guys that would no longer get to a number of par 5s out here, but the guys that can get to those par 5s are still — the guys that get there now with long irons are going to be able to get there with 5-woods or 3-woods. So I think if anything, if they roll it back, the guys that hit it far will get an increased advantage.”
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