Caddie Network

The part of Tiger Woods’ mentality his caddie says amateur golfers need

Tiger Woods, Joe LaCava
Tiger Woods and caddie Joe LaCava during a practice round at the 2019 Masters. Credit: Michael Madrid-USA TODAY Sports

Editor’s note: This story was originally published in April 2020.

There’s no denying that Tiger Woods is a once in a lifetime sort of talent.

But that doesn’t mean there aren’t certain things Joe Golfer can’t learn from arguably the greatest golfer of all time.

Will you hit Tiger’s booming drives? Not likely. Will you dial in your irons with Tiger’s laser-like precision? Probably not. Will you drop those pressure putts like he has so many times? Seems like a lot to ask.

But, according to Tiger’s longtime caddie Joe LaCava, that doesn’t mean you can’t incorporate some of what Tiger does – mentally – to lower your scores.

LaCava joined The Caddie Network’s ‘Caddies United’ podcast earlier this week, along with fellow Masters-winning caddie guests Ted Scott and Damon Green.

During the podcast, Scott asked LaCava to share one tip on the mental-side with Tiger that could help the average golfer.

LISTEN: Masters-week ‘Caddies United’ podcast with special guests Joe LaCava, Ted Scott and Damon Green

Here’s what LaCava had to say:

“It helps to have a lot of confidence and a lot of background with the wins and stuff like that,” LaCava conceded. “That gives you a lot of confidence. But with Tiger, it’s playing smart golf when it calls for it. When I see a 25-30 percent chance he can pull a shot off, he’ll go the other way, hack it out of the rough and keep the score to a minimum – say a four or a five on a par 4.

“I hear guys all the time say, ‘I really wanted to break 80 today, but I shot 81,’ or something like that,” LaCava continued. “Then I think to myself, ‘There’s easily one or two places where you could have saved a stroke or two by hacking out of the rough or not trying to hit a shot over the lake and laying up,’ and stuff like that. In terms of that, I think it’s just playing a little bit smarter will save you some shots in the end. And then when you’re in the clubhouse having a beer afterwards, and you’re saying, ‘Oh, man, I shot 79.’ Yeah, well you shot 79 because you laid up one time when you normally would have gone for it and made a six or seven. It’s just little stuff like that.”

RELATED: Bubba Watson’s best shot at the Masters? Not the one you’d think, says caddie Ted Scott

In the podcast, LaCava was also asked if he ever notices Tiger experiencing nerves down the stretch. If anyone wouldn’t, it’d probably be the guy who has won a record-tying 82 times on the PGA Tour, including 15 majors, right?

“When he’s up there in the hunt, for the most part the pressure isn’t going to get to him,” LaCava said. “Does he feel pressure? Sure. Of course, he does. He’s said that. They all do. But he’s going to stay focused. He doesn’t need me holding his hand or trying to get him to stay in the moment or anything like that. He’s very focused when it comes to stuff like that. Do my job and get out of the way. Let him do his thing.”

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