The successful pairing of two-time major champion Zach Johnson and caddie Damon Green is no more.
Johnson, who won the 2007 Masters and the 2015 British Open along with nine other PGA Tour victories with Green on his bag, recently parted ways with Green.
“Zach said, ‘I think we need to take a break. It’s not a ‘firing.’ We’re too good friends for that.’” Green told The Caddie Network on Saturday.
“I just think he didn’t want to say the word ‘fire.’ I was shocked.”
The Johnson-Green pairing had been one of the longest-running, player-caddie relationships on the PGA Tour, dating back to Johnson’s rookie season in 2004.
Green had left a proven veteran in Scott Hoch and his judgment was rewarded when Johnson won his first year on the PGA Tour. During their tenure, Johnson won 11 of his 12 PGA Tour titles with Green caddying (Green was playing in the U.S. Senior Open during one of Johnson’s wins) and Tiger Woods’ event at Sherwood.
In 387 starts together, Johnson had 79 top-10s, 175 top-25s and only missed the cut in 67 of 387 events. Johnson’s earnings of $44.7 million rank 11th all-time.
“He’s probably had a Hall of Fame career and I had a front-row seat to it,” Green said. “It was great to watch.”
Johnson is expected to hire Brett Waldman, who has been Charley Hoffman’s caddie. Johnson and Waldman played mini-tour golf together.
At the 2007 Masters, the shorter-hitting Johnson famously laid up at every par 5 and the strategy paid off as he made 11 birdies – two more than Tiger Woods, who tied for second. Johnson won at 1 over, an example of his doggedness.
Johnson won the 2015 British Open, beating Louis Oosthuizen and Mark Leishman in a playoff at St. Andrews. During their time together, Johnson played on five Ryder Cups and four Presidents Cups.
The last three years have not been good for the 42-year-old Johnson (a stretch that coincides with him switching to PXG clubs). Johnson has had one top-10 finish in a major (T8 at the 2016 U.S. Open) since the win at St. Andrews, and hasn’t qualified for the Tour Championship in each of the last three years after making it seven of the previous nine.
Green previously worked with Scott Hoch for four years, but left him after the 2003 season when he recognized Johnson’s potential and Hoch was dealing with a chronic wrist injury.
“I saw Zach in a club repair shop and told him it was important for him to have a good caddie,” Green recalled. “And, I said, ‘I’ve got some friends you might want to consider.’ Zach said, ‘you’re No. 1 on my list.’
“I went and researched how Zach was No. 1 in almost every category, so it was an easy decision.”
Green is a fine player in his own right who specializes in reading Bermuda greens. He won more than 75 mini-tour events in the Orlando area, often celebrating with his “chicken dance” on the 18th green.
Green finished T13 at the 2011 U.S. Senior Open and once came within a missed 2 ½-foot putt of making it to the PGA Tour.
The 58-year-old Green said he will take some time to assess his situation, but hopes to return to caddying soon.
“I’ve missed out on a lot of family things for 20 years,” he said. “I’m thankful I don’t have work again if I don’t want to.
“But there’s a part of me that loves caddying. I’d say it’s probably 80 percent I’ll caddie again. But it has to be the right situation.”