ATLANTA – Four weeks into his new-found career as a caddie and Wayne Robinson finally had a chance to impart all his experience and knowledge on a less-seasoned bagman.
At least, in theory he did. But Robinson only smiled, because the truth is, he’s still a novice at this caddie business and isn’t about to offer advice.
By trade, he works for the CBS golf team, only to have been called in to work for Sergio Garcia when the Spaniard decided he needed a change of strategy after the PGA Championship and it included going with inexperienced caddies.
So there was Robinson, simply doing his job when he turned and watched Garcia’s playing competitor, Dustin Johnson, put in the call to the caddie bullpen. Walking up the 11th fairway, Bobby Brown, Johnson’s regular caddie, finally had to succumb to a sore back. He put the bag down and took off the bib, just as Johnson signaled to a friend walking outside the ropes.
“Hoop, come in here.”
And with those words from Johnson, Cameron Hooper’s first-ever day as a caddie was in the second round of the Tour Championship, where $8 million is in the purse and $10 million more is up for grabs in bonus money.
Hey, good thing Hooper is a financial adviser with Morgan Stanley here in the Atlanta area, eh? Because he was offering financial advice as well as golf guidance to Johnson, wasn’t he?
Hooper, who was Johnson’s roommate and teammate at Coastal Carolina, laughed.
“He did it all by himself. I just tried to catch the ball when he threw it to me,” he said.
Having come out Thursday to cheer on his friend, Hooper was in attendance again for Round 2, though he never knew that Brown had pulled a muscle in his back earlier in the day. So when Brown put the bag down and Johnson hollered over, it was a surprise to Hooper.
“Bobby was struggling and wasn’t feeling well,” Johnson said. “I told him to go home.”
Not that Hooper doesn’t know the game. Alongside Johnson, Hooper played on some very good Coastal Carolina teams, and in 2011 he gave professional golf a try. “But I had a bad rib injury, and it’s hard to play against guys at the top of their games when you’re hurt,” he said. “Seventy-two just isn’t going to cut it.”
Settled into his business career, Hooper still loves the golf scene, and he got a charge out of his caddie duties. When Johnson put the call in for Hooper, he was level par for the round, 1 under for the tournament. Then came birdies at 13, 14 and 15 as he got halfway home in 4 under, just three off Jim Furyk’s lead.
“All him,” Hooper said with a smile. “Dustin just hit some great shots.”
If seeing Johnson settle into a nice rhythm did anything, it calmed Hooper down. “My hands were a little shaky on the first hole,” Hooper said.
“It worked out well,” Johnson said. “He’s a good player and a good friend of mine.”
Sadly, Johnson couldn’t adjust his attire. Though he owns some Adidas clothing – Johnson’s sponsor – Hooper was decked out in a regular golf shirt, shorts and an Atlanta Braves hat. As for the footwear, he was definitely the only caddie sockless and wearing topsiders.
“I’ll make sure I wear tennis shoes (Saturday),” Hooper said, though he emphasized that Johnson and Brown would determine the caddie situation later Friday night.