In the heat of the back nine at the Players Championship on Sunday, NBC gave television viewers a fascinating glimpse into a player/caddie conversation that ultimately led to the caddie – Adam Hayes – being overruled and a crushing bogey for 54-hole leader Jon Rahm.
Rahm entered the final round at TPC Sawgrass one stroke ahead of eventual winner Rory McIlroy.
The day got off to a bumpy start for the Spaniard – as it did for many others in difficult, cool conditions – with three bogeys over his first four holes.
Rahm settled in with birdies on holes 6 and 8 and was 1-over for the day and tied with McIlroy when he got to the par-5 11th hole.
But that’s where things unraveled for Rahm.
His tee shot found a left, fairway bunker. He had 220 yards left to the hole and wanted to play an 8-iron shot to the green.
Hayes, a veteran caddie, tried to convince Rahm that the more prudent play was to lay up out to the right, just in front of the water, and leave a 100-yard third shot.
NBC captured the entire scene:
A pivotal moment @THEPLAYERSChamp.
This conversation between Jon Rahm and his caddie.
He was leading at the time. pic.twitter.com/hWQGNwcu9Z
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) March 18, 2019
Editor’s note: The PGA Tour removed the video from its website and Twitter page. You can click here to view it on YouTube.
Rahm elected not to heed the advice of Hayes – which he’s entitled to do since he’s the one hitting the shots – and his ball found a watery grave.
That led to a crushing bogey on the par-5 hole, a pivotal moment in the tournament.
Rahm would bounce back with a birdie on 13, but a bogey on 15, to go along with a double on 17 after he rinsed a tee shot, squashed Rahm’s chance at winning.
Up ahead, McIlroy birdied 12, 15 and 16 with a bogey on 14.
Rahm wound up with a 4-over 70 and finished the tournament in a tie for 12th at 11 under, five shots behind McIlroy.
After the round, Rahm defended his aggressive play on 11 where he overruled Hayes.
“Adam was trying to convince me to go right,” Rahm said. “When I first got to the ball, I was really sure I could do it. If you give me 10 balls, besides that one, I’ll hit the other nine on land. Unfortunately, I got a little bit of doubt in me.”
GolfChannel.com’s Will Gray said Rahm explained that the reason for the aggressive play had to do with the fact that the rake lines in the bunker were pointing toward the hole. Hitting the lay-up shot Hayes was lobbying for would have been difficult hitting across the sand lines, he said.
Clearly the outcome of the shot wasn’t what player nor caddie had hoped for. In a situation like that with a tournament win hanging in the balance, if a caddie is overruled, you can be sure he or she wants nothing more than for the player to pull off the shot they want to hit.
As we saw Sunday, it doesn’t always play out that way.
Regardless of the outcome, it was a moment that gave viewers an inside look at what a thought-process can be like for players and caddies every round, but especially with the tournament on the line.