The story behind Tony Navarro’s decision to pass on caddying for Tiger Woods in 1999
Tony Navarro jumped on a Greyhound bus in 1978 with some buddies for a summer job as a PGA Tour caddie. That summer job turned into a career – one in which Navarro became one of the best in his profession.
Along the way, he’s caddied for major champion Jeff Sluman, Hall of Famers Raymond Floyd and Greg Norman, as well as Adam Scott (before he was a Masters winner) and currently Nick Watney.
Those are some pretty incredible bags. But the one Navarro passed up is one that might just blow your mind.
In 1999, shortly after Tiger Woods parted ways with Mike ‘Fluff’ Cowan, Navarro was offered Tiger’s bag.
“I was just in a fortunate position,” Navarro explained in the latest episode of The Caddie Network’s ‘Under the Strap’ podcast. “Butch Harmon – who was Greg’s instructor at the same time – knew that Greg was slowing his pace down, his tournament-play down and kind of starting to fade away. Butch was actually just trying to look after me and also trying to put Tiger with somebody who knew the ropes. That’s pretty much how it came about.”
Whereas most people would jump at the opportunity to work with Woods – especially with the phenom he was and the assumed greatness that laid ahead (and played out tenfold, which rarely happens with those tagged for greatness) – Navarro didn’t need to give it any thought at all. It was a simple, “Thanks, but no thanks.”
“Really, in my mind, there wasn’t a decision,” Navarro said. “Greg [Norman] looked after me so well for so many years. He did so many nice things for myself, my wife, my family. I mean, yes, Tiger Woods may be the greatest golfer to ever live. I’ve known Tiger since he was 16 years old. Enjoyed his company. Enjoyed being around him and watching him grow his golf game. That’s been a great thing… But the things that Greg gave me are irreplaceable. For that reason and that reason alone, there was no way I was going to take any job.”
Talk about loyalty.
“Butch contacted me and said, ‘Hey, would you like to take the job?’ I said, ‘Thanks a lot. But I’m pretty happy with where I am.’ So, that’s just the way it went,” Navarro said. “Nothing bigger than that. That’s just the story in a nutshell there.”
You can listen to the complete podcast with Tony Navarro and John ‘Cub’ Burke in the player at the top of the page, or find it on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Play and Stitcher by searching “Caddie Network.”
Note: This story was originally published in June 2020.