There was a time seemingly only months ago where a 15th major for Tiger Woods felt impossible.
But it happened.
Members of Woods’ team — like longtime agent Mark Steinberg and caddie Joe LaCava — never lost their optimism for their player’s chances to nab that elusive 15th.
When The Caddie Network approached LaCava the Sunday before the Masters, his outlook offered as much.
“I’m optimistic as usual and looking for good things to happen,” LaCava said.
Boy, was he in for a treat. LaCava did temper his optimism by saying he didn’t want to get ahead of himself should they win major No. 15 that week.
“It would be fun here more so than any (major),” LaCava said, “but it’s the Sunday before, I don’t want to get carried away.”
In a 2013 Golf Digest interview, Steinberg said “When Tiger wins his 15th major there are going to be tremors.”
Not if, but when.
Who now could have guessed one of those tremors would lead to an invite from the sitting U.S. President Donald Trump for the Presidential Medal of Freedom?
Well, that’s where we’re at.
President Trump made the announcement on Twitter the Monday after Woods’ historic win.
Spoke to @TigerWoods to congratulate him on the great victory he had in yesterday’s @TheMasters, & to inform him that because of his incredible Success & Comeback in Sports (Golf) and, more importantly, LIFE, I will be presenting him with the PRESIDENTIAL MEDAL OF FREEDOM!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 15, 2019
Clearly it will be a monumental moment for Woods.
Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Charlie Sifford are the only golfers so far to receive this distinction.
But what about LaCava? Is he invited?
In a phone interview last Thursday with The Caddie Network, the 55-year-old says he has not yet heard from President Trump or his administration officials since the announcement.
“Nothing from Trump, which I’m a little disappointed,” LaCava said jokingly. With tongue firmly planted in cheek, he continued, “but everything else (other congratulatory texts) was pretty good. How about a little text my way?”
Of course, the veteran looper received texts from all kinds of golf and sports names after the win ranging from former New York Rangers, to his old boss Fred Couples, to a heartfelt message from current boss Tiger Woods.
The joking disconnect with the sitting president aside, would LaCava be game to attend the ceremony for Woods when the time arrives?
“Sure,” LaCava said, “if I was lucky enough to be asked, or invited, I would definitely go.”
LaCava already pulled off an all-time wardrobe moment when he wore his Saquon Barkley t-shirt to a formal party at Augusta National the Sunday night after Woods’ win.
That’s only because LaCava was just being a good sport once he was invited. It wasn’t his first choice to arrive at a formal function, at Augusta National no less, in a sweaty game-day shirt.
But given a choice and some lead-in time to this future award ceremony, LaCava knows what he’d wear this time: A t-shirt and pair of shorts.
“Why not right?” LaCava joked, “That’s how I go.”
Reflecting on the win
When asked how he would tell the story of Woods’ huge Masters win to his grandkids in 30 years, LaCava said this:
“I don’t mind sharing it with the grandkids when that day does come, but I’ll just tell them how incredible it was,” the 55-year-old said, “and how great a spot I was fortunate to see some amazing golf over the years with Tiger. I’ll try to relay the story of how much he went through, everything between his last major win and then this year at Augusta.
A lot of people having doubts — not in a bad way — they just did. But he got it done.
Just awesome to be a part of.”
Former Coach Ecstatic for Woods
Woods’ former swing coach Chris Como watched Woods’ Masters win with great interest and had plenty of superlatives about his former pupil.
“It’s unbelievable,” Como said via text Sunday night of the win. “Amazing.
“It’s the best comeback in sports history, I’m so happy for him.”