KIAWAH ISLAND, S.C. — Michael Bestor has been caddying in the pro ranks for 21 years and today’s final round in the PGA Championship at Kiawah Island represents one of the best chances he’s had to become a major-winning caddie.
Bestor’s player Kevin Streelman enters Sunday at 4-under-par and in solo fourth, only three shots behind tournament leader Phil Mickelson.
“I haven’t been in many other majors where I’ve been in final groups on the weekend,” Bestor said by phone on Saturday night. Today, Streelman and Louis Oosthuizen go out as the penultimate group.
“It would be awesome to have a chance late (Sunday),” Bestor said. “I’ve won a tour event (2006 International with Dean Wilson), I’ve won some Korn Ferry events, and smaller tour events but I’ve never won a major so I would really like to do it, especially with Kevin because he’s such a great guy.”
The only other time Bestor had a great chance was 10 years ago at Congressional at the 2011 U.S. Open as he caddied for Y.E. Yang in the final group on the weekend. Rory McIlroy was just too hard to catch that week, winning by eight and Yang finished in a tie for third.
Bestor is definitely pumped for today’s round.
“I’m looking forward to getting out there with Kevin, his attitude is great and when he gets a sniff of contention it really excites him and he’s really organized,” Bestor said.
The duo finished second twice last year at Pebble Beach and the Travelers and “he was super steady down that back nine on those Sundays,” Bestor chimed in, “so I’m looking forward to if we get in the heat there, in contention late on the back nine, I like our chances because he’s very strong and very steady off the tee which is important.”
Bestor and Streelman have been together since the 2019 American Express and today figures to be an exciting opportunity for both. Bestor is also happy with Streelman’s short game and course management this week.
“He kind of found something in working on his short game this past week and he kind of found a technique that’s helped,” Bestor said. “The other thing is he’s got a different mindset when he gets on tough courses. When you get out of position, don’t try and bite off too much. Just get it back in play, keep the ball in front of you, avoid the big numbers.”
They did that Saturday evening on 18 when Streelman missed his landing target by five yards and found himself in a steep fairway bunker to the right.
Streelman laid up short and took double bogey out of play, ending with a bogey.
So how might he and Bestor close the gap on Mickelson and both Brooks Koepka and Oosthuizen, who are the only others in front of them?
“Score on the par 5s and there are some shorter par 4s,” Bestor said. “There’s a handful of wedges in, then a couple into the wind and you hit driver and long iron.”
The more gettable holes to Bestor include 1, 3, 6, 10, and 12.
“If you hit a good drive on those holes, then you’re gonna have a nine or wedge in your hand so you’re expecting to have a good look at birdie,” Bestor said.
“I think you shouldn’t get too down if you make a bogey because you can string a couple pars together and it’s almost like making a birdie out here. Every par you make you’re beating more than half the field. If you string four or five pars together, you’re going to move up the board.”
Both Streelman and Bestor also know that on the longer holes like the 505-yard par-4 18th, when the wind picks up, they can have a lot of club in. They hit a 5-wood approach on Friday and this week into the wind Bestor figures it’s playing longer than two of the par 5s on the course.
Bestor is not a fan of the rangefinders which the PGA of America allowed caddies and players to use this week.
“Personally I can’t stand the laser, I think it’s only good for a bad caddie,” he said. “It doesn’t speed up play. Maybe if you get out of position, but it’s another step. Then if it’s a little different than what you have then you’re adjusting all your other numbers and you get a front edge. You’re always double checking and it’s just another step.”
Many other caddies have complained about the lasers this week as well. In Bestor’s case, they’ve unfortunately become a regular part of each shot.
“We’ve used it every shot because Kevin just kinda wants to double check. It’s kind of aggravating. I’ve been a professional caddie for 21 years working a certain way,” Bestor said.
“It was interesting Friday because we got a number that was five yards different, and I checked it because there was a sprinkler right there so I thought the sprinkler must have been wrong. I double checked it with the laser, I still don’t know if I agree with the laser. I got 122 and he got 127, and we went with 127 and we went five yards too long. I’ll betcha I had the right number, but how are you gonna argue with a laser?”
Let’s hope critical shots on Sunday don’t come down to a laser mistake.