Commentary

Joe LaCava details switch to Tiger

Updated: October 8, 2011, 10:32 PM ET
By Bob Harig | ESPN.com

SAN MARTIN, Calif. -- When it came to agonizing, there was no such thing. No list of pros and cons. No sleepless nights.

"Because he's Tiger Woods,'' Joe LaCava said Wednesday.

The veteran caddie made the move from a seemingly lucrative gig with Dustin Johnson to work for Woods, who has struggled for most of the past two years, and said it was pretty simple.

"It's a no-brainer,'' LaCava said. "That's my thought, it's Tiger Woods, right?''

[+] EnlargeJoe Lacava
Robert Laberge/Getty ImagesJoe LaCava fully expects Tiger Woods to return to his old self on the golf course. That's one of the reasons he left Dustin Johnson's bag to work for the former world No. 1.

LaCava, a 25-year veteran who spent two decades with Fred Couples, earlier this year went to work for Johnson, the fifth-ranked player in the world who has five PGA Tour victories and has already contended in several major championships. Johnson recently won the Barclays at the end of August.

But Woods had an opening after a high-profile split with longtime caddie Steve Williams this summer, and LaCava expressed an interest in the job. They came to an agreement on Sept. 23 and LaCava told Johnson of his intentions two days later after the final round of the Tour Championship.

"It's hard in the fact that Dustin was great to me,'' LaCava said. "So it was hard to tell him I was going to leave to go work for Tiger. But was it hard to go leave to go to work for Tiger? No.

"The biggest pro is it was Tiger Woods. Very simple. Scheduling is part of it, too, but to be honest with you, it's Tiger Woods and that's what it's all about.

"[Johnson] is a great player and a great kid. He was fantastic to me. He couldn't have been any nicer. He played great. The guy won a tournament, finished second, finished fourth in four months. The kid can play. There's no comparison between the two as far as that, it's just that it's Tiger Woods.''

Wood has had just two full-time caddies in his 15-year pro career, Mike "Fluff'' Cowan and Williams, who was on the bag for 13 of Woods' 14 major titles.

The two split this summer, in part because Williams caddied for Adam Scott at the U.S. Open when Woods was injured. That caused a rift, one that led to Williams' dismissal and a high-profile rant by the New Zealander after he caddied for Scott during the Aussie's victory at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.

Woods used friend Bryon Bell on the bag for the Bridgestone and PGA Championship.

"Joe is one of the best caddies out here,'' Woods said. "There's no doubt. I've known Joey since I was an amateur playing with Freddie in the Masters practice rounds, U.S. Open at Shinnecock [in 1995], and then just playing with him, [whether] it be practice rounds or tournaments.

"So I've known him a very long time, had a very nice comfort level. I like the way he worked, and it's just one of those decisions where my gut said it was the right thing to do.''

Both Woods and LaCava said there is going to be an adjustment period.

"I just tried to stay out of the way today,'' LaCava said.

But when LaCava was asked if he was betting on Woods still having a lot left, there was no hesitation.

"I know he does,'' LaCava said. "No question. I'm not betting on it.''

Bob Harig covers golf for ESPN.com. He can be reached at BobHarig@gmail.com.

Bob Harig | email

Golf Writer, ESPN.com

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