Natalie Gulbis mourns loss of old-school, uplifting LPGA caddie Greg Sheridan

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Natalie Gulbis mourns loss of old-school, uplifting LPGA caddie Greg Sheridan

LPGA Tour

Natalie Gulbis mourns loss of old-school, uplifting LPGA caddie Greg Sheridan

Natalie Gulbis spent Wednesday morning sifting through old photographs online trying to determine when Greg Sheridan first started working for her. It was sometime in 2003, maybe ’04. Beth Daniel had a similar fuzzy memory. Sometime in the mid-80s. Definitely for more than a decade during the height of her career. 

But before Gulbis and Daniel, there was the great Kathy Whitworth. It was Sheridan on the bag for Whitworth’s 88th and final LPGA title. 

An old-school caddie with a generous spirit, Sheridan was among the winningest loopers on the LPGA. He used to joke with Gulbis, who won once, that she had messed with his streak.

“When I first came on tour I would try to find out how many times Greg won,” said Gulbis. “It’s a crazy number, like 50.”

Gulbis said Sheridan was diagnosed with brain and lung cancer in July of 2016. Doctors told him he wouldn’t make it past Thanksgiving. A positive Sheridan beat those odds by a full year. He died on Nov. 22 in Indian Rocks Beach, Fla., at the age of 63. Gulbis had FaceTimed with him the night before. Sheridan couldn’t speak but blinked to communicate with his longtime boss. 

“I grew up with Greg,” said Gulbis. “He was my best friend out there every single day.”

Jeffrey Steffler remembers the first time he saw Sheridan 32 years ago. They were at the LPGA stop in Steffler’s hometown of Rochester, N.Y., and Steffler heard Sheridan ask another caddie if he had booked his flight to Denver.

Steffler had an itch to travel, and the conversation piqued his interest in joining the tour full time. Steffler relayed that memory in a note of thanks to Sheridan several months ago. 

Years ago, caddies used to throw parties after a win. They’d put out a couple kegs and a dozen pizzas in a parking lot on a Wednesday. Sheridan, a graduate of Virginia Tech, was kind to everyone, Steffler said, even the oddballs. He often contributed financially to a party even if he didn’t go.

In Rochester, Sheridan and Donna Early ran an annual bowling tournament for players and caddies. Gulbis thought she might throw a bowling tournament in Sheridan’s honor the next time she tees it up on the LPGA. 

It was Sheridan who first taught Daniel how to fish. She loved it so much she carried a rod and reel around in her golf bag. One year after both she and Alice Miller missed the cut in Canada, they went with Sheridan on a guided fishing trip in Lake of the Woods.

“It’s definitely more than a golf relationship that you have with people,” said Daniel.

In Sheridan, she found a no-nonsense caddie who knew what to say and when to say it. He was a people person who knew his numbers and knew how to calm Daniel down when she got too riled up.

As for the mullet Sheridan sported back in those days, Daniel tried to get rid of it.

“I think that’s one of the reasons he kept his hair long,” she said, “because he knew I wanted him to cut it.”

The first time Gulbis met Sheridan he was working for her best friend Cristie Kerr. Gulbis used her manager as a caddie when she first started competing but eventually hired Sheridan. 

In her early years on tour, Gulbis played 40 events a year worldwide. Sheridan was by her side through it all. While he didn’t mind the Bon Jovi or AC/DC concerts, Gulbis said he’d go along to see Jewel too because he’d promised her mom he’d look after her. 

“He was always that person that was there to look after me,” she said, even acting as her security.

When Gulbis finally broke into the winner’s circle at the 2007 Evian in France, she celebrated with Sheridan and her mom at the Hotel Royal. They dined on steak and poured Scotch (for Sheridan) and champagne to toast the fact that no one would ever again ask her about not winning.

Tributes from caddies and players poured in on social media as news of his death spread: “RIP, Greg Sheridan. One of the most successful and great caddies of World Golf, period,” tweeted longtime caddie Shaun Clews. 

Wrote former Duke player Jennie Lee: “… I remember sitting next to him on the plane from Walmart to the U.S. Open one year and he gave me the best words of wisdom on player/caddie chemistry. He will be missed greatly.”

When Gulbis first learned of Sheridan’s illness, she would call him every day crying. Sheridan would get on her case about being so negative.

“It has quite an effect on you,” said Gulbis, that the most uplifting person she spoke with on any given day this past year was a man living on borrowed time.

Clews called Sheridan a big figure on the LPGA with a big resume. It’s the intangibles, however, that will be most remembered.

“Exemplary manners, talked to everyone and was consistent day in and day out, which is all you can ask of a person,” wrote Clews. “Won’t be forgotten anytime soon.”

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