Local Pinehurst caddie Keith Silva has William Holcomb laughing all the way to the U.S. Amateur semifinals

Keith Silva, William Holcomb V
Pinehurst caddie Keith Silva has William Holcomb V on the verge of U.S. Amateur history. (Photo by John Patota)

PINEHURST, N.C. — Local Pinehurst caddie Keith Silva is on the bag for William Holcomb V at the U.S. Amateur.

And they have taken their show all the way to the semifinals of the historic championship.

A match of complete opposites, Silva hails from Liverpool, England, and has been caddying at Pinehurst for 17 years. Along the way, he’s been asked to loop for Webb Simpson, Graeme McDowell, Glen Day, Paul McGinley and several other world class professionals.

But it might be his rapport with the burly 21-year-old baby face from Crockett, Texas, that might be his best match.

Sure, they do nothing alike. Silva talks a mile a minute – as he says, “I’m from Liverpool. We all think we’re comedians.” Holcomb has a soft-spoken Texas drawl that…well, that you’d completely expect just from looking at him.

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Silva can’t go two sentences without breaking, usually because the first sentence is setting up the second, which is typically a punchline delivered with perfect aplomb. As for Holcomb?

“My friends watch the telly and they say, ‘Your boy is SO SERIOUS.’ And I say, ‘If he smiled, his face would crack,’” Silva quips.

Holcomb is married. Silva? Uh, we’ll get to that.

They’ve been together since the 2019 North & South Amateur, Silva shepherding Holcomb to a Round of 32 match play appearance on No. 2 in June. And he continues to soften up the stone-faced Holcomb, who gave Silva a blood-draining bear hug following his emphatic 4 & 3 win over phenom Karl Vilips of Australia.

“The boy asked me today about a shot, ‘What do ya think?’ I said, ‘What, you want me to hit it for ya?’ That got him to laugh.

“And that’s what I gotta do. He knows now. He drifts here and there, and I’ve got to bring him back around. He may say he doesn’t do that, but hey, this is what I do. I know my player. Webb would drift, too. You gotta bring them back.”

It’s working. Holcomb is storming through the Amateur and looks nothing like the 328th-ranked player in the world that the numbers say he is. Holcomb’s now beginning to grin all over the place. Fox Sports is calling him the “Smiling Assassin.”

But there’s a reason, and Silva saw it right away at the North & South. And he’s been seeing it here all week.

“He gets these greens,” Silva says of Holcomb around Donald Ross’s turtleback masterpieces. “He doesn’t need me so much on them – well, he does here and there, after all, I’m his caddie, and I’ve been around this place a time or two. But he gets them. He sees them. And his short game. It’s why he’s here.”

And there’s a reason why Silva, who is trying to win the Amateur like fellow local caddie Bob Scheier did with Danny Lee in 2008, is here. Well, here in Pinehurst, we mean.

“I came here because of a woman,” he says, in that first, setup sentence…

“I didn’t love her. But I loved Pinehurst.”

It shows.

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