As the golf world was understandably beside itself as Tiger Woods won the Masters Sunday afternoon — 11 years after his last major win at the 2008 U.S. Open — it was also quite special for Tiger’s caddie, Joe LaCava.
For LaCava, who stuck by Tiger’s side even when it seemed possible he may never play golf again competitively, it marked 27 years between major wins.
Nearly three decades ago, LaCava was on the bag for Fred Couples when the world’s coolest golfer won the 1992 Masters. Now he has one with Woods.
Coincidentally, with LaCava on the bag for both, Couples and Woods had the same winning total — 13-under, 275.
Not long after Woods tapped in for major win No. 15 and his fifth Masters title, our friends at Golf Digest tracked LaCava down in the parking lot. Here’s some of what he had to say…
On if Tiger can catch Jack Nicklaus and his record 18 major wins:
“It’s nice to get to 15, 18 isn’t a thought,” said LaCava. “Now 15’s here, let’s get to 16. Is it [the record] in play? Sure. The guy’s 43 years old, a guy like him could win when they’re 50. Sixteen is the next mission…
“It’s been a long time, lot of question marks, lot of injuries. I think 15 is, who knows, looking back 10 years from now, 15 may be the hardest one.”
On jokingly denying Tiger a read on his 18-inch birdie putt on No. 16:
“He said ‘Take a look.’ I said, ‘Take a look? It’s a foot and a half,'” said LaCava, laughing. “He said, ‘Left center,’ I said ‘Go for it.'”
On the similarities between this win with Tiger and the win with Couples in 1992:
“It’s the same score,” said LaCava. “Raymond [Floyd] was at 11 in the house, so it was a little easier. Fred made a par, so he had a two-stroke lead, just like Tiger did. You still have to finish it off. It was a little tougher with Fred, knowing that pin was in the back. Plus he was in a bunker. I knew Fred’s ball was a little to the right, it’s not that easy of a shot.”
On the advice he gave Tiger on the first tee:
“On the first tee I told him, ‘Intense but loose,'” said LaCava. “Don’t carry the weight of the world…
“I think he did that. I thought he was pretty loose. But I didn’t want him to lose the intensity. At the same time, this isn’t the end all. Not ‘Let’s just have fun no matter what happens’—don’t get me wrong. But be loose.”
Here’s a look at what folks in the golf world — and golf fans — were saying about LaCava on social media following the Masters victory for Woods:
— Arnaud Verhaeghe (@arnaudverhaeghe) April 15, 2019
Tiger Masters wins 11 years apart. Joe Lacava Masters wins 27 years apart. Pretty special.
— Kip Henley PGA loopr (@KipHenley) April 14, 2019
Not gonna lie, if Tiger wins this, I’m gonna cry when I see/hug Joe LaCava. https://t.co/P0FSjprlNM
— Michael Collins (@ESPNCaddie) April 14, 2019
History was made today… 27 years between victories at @TheMasters by caddie Joe LaCava…
— Ron Sirak (@ronsirak) April 14, 2019
I wonder if it was the right decision for Joe LaCava to stick by Tiger? I guess time will tell …
— Catman (@OzCatman) April 15, 2019
Asked Tiger’s caddie Joe LaCava how this compares to his victory @TheMasters w/ Fred Couples in 1992. “Same score [13 under],” he smiled. “I’d have liked for it to be 14 or 15.”
— Rex Hoggard (@RexHoggardGC) April 14, 2019
Ending today thinking about this Joe LaCava quote from last year about sticking with Tiger during his injury years. There’s loyalty, and then there’s this—but man, what a payoff. pic.twitter.com/xRgUuABO9k
— Dylan Dethier (@dylan_dethier) April 15, 2019
HUGE embrace for caddie Joe LaCava on the green. Pure joy on the face of Tiger as he comes off the 18th green and hugs his family. https://t.co/RPf7w01uCb
— Michael Collins (@ESPNCaddie) April 14, 2019
Anybody else psyched for Joe Lacava? That guy has been through a lot too.
— Poosh (@Pooshdaddy) April 14, 2019
And Joe LaCava just sticking by his side even when there was uncertainty whether he would ever swing the stick ever again. Loyalty rewarded
— Ryan Surette (@ryansuretteMGC) April 14, 2019
Let’s not overlook Tigers caddy Joe Lacava. A man who refused to caddy for any other golfer while HIS golfer was recovering from injuries. Gave up, potentially, hundreds of thousands of dollars over the course of 2 years. For one reason.
— Michael Costello (@Cosy_28) April 14, 2019
— GoCoogs.com (@gocoogs1) April 14, 2019
Feeling for Joe Lacava rt now. Guy who bleeds 🇺🇸. 2nd Major. 2nd @TheMasters wins. Tiger & Freddie😊
— Ron Read (@golfdinosaurrr) April 14, 2019
— Mike Shrieve (@MikeShrieve) April 15, 2019
What might be even more impressive than Tigers win today is the fact that Joe Lacava (his caddy) stayed true to Tiger during his whole comeback. Incredible testimony to his character not leaving to get another job. Mad respect for that guy.
— Blair Lakso (@BlairLakso) April 15, 2019
I think someone needs to give a big congrats to Joe Lacava as well. He was loyal through 5 tough years of injury, and it was rewarded
— john (@JL4486) April 15, 2019
Joe LaCava to Eldrick pic.twitter.com/2tq7hw9CUx
— Lafferty Daniel (@DLafferty_) April 14, 2019
A word for Joe LaCava.
He deserves this just as much.
And @TigerWoods looked as thrilled for himself as he was for his right hand man.
Not everyone wanted that bag after 2009.
Good on you, Joe.
Soak it in.
All of it.#TheMasters
— Lungani Zama (@whamzam17) April 14, 2019
One of the coolest moments of that celebration was Tiger telling Joe Lacava, “”We” did it!” #greatness
— Chan Metts (@chanmetts) April 14, 2019
“We did it! We did it!” Tiger screams to his caddie, Joe LaCava.
— Mike Leslie (@MikeLeslieWFAA) April 14, 2019
I know many of us didn’t think Tiger would compete again, let alone win his 15th major – but one person I know who did – Joey Lacava – stuck with Tiger thru the worst of times – really admire that kind of loyalty.
— Luke Donald (@LukeDonald) April 14, 2019