Brooks earns another shot at a big loop
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – It was 1982 and Willie Wood, a star at Oklahoma State, decided he wanted to try to qualify for the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach.
So Wood asked his good friend Mark Brooks of rival Texas to caddie for him. Wood made it to Pebble Beach but decided to carry his own bag in the U.S. Open.
“He couldn’t afford the $300,” Brooks said. “But he also said I was the best caddie he ever had.”
Now 30 years later, with seven PGA Tour victories, including the 1996 PGA, among his 791 events, Brooks, 51, finds himself back on the bag, this time for good friend J.J. Henry.
Henry, has had a difficult 2012 season, starting with five missed consecutive cuts and only one top 10, a ninth at the Mayakoba Golf Classic in February.
At TPC at Sawgrass, site of this week's Players Championship, Henry has had limited success, with only three made cuts and a best finish of T-42 in 2008 to show for his 10 appearances.
Given Henry's struggles this season and his history at The Players, Brooks called to say he was coming to help.
“He’s been out with me for the last three days," Henry said, "and it’s been awesome. He helps me a lot out when we're home. We both live in Fort Worth, and we mess around together.”
For Henry, having his neighbor on the bag has many benefits, particularly here on the northeast Florida coast, where Brooks recorded three top 10s, including a T-7 in 1997.
The other benefits are those of a mentor.
“It helps me to see how he attacked courses and his management,” Henry said of Brooks. “The way he approached things, shots around the greens, things that are maybe weaknesses in my game that were strengths in his.”
Brooks sees an upside, too: the potential payday.
“It's more than what we played for then when I started,” said Brooks, who turned pro in 1983.
Brooks' first Players was in 1984, when Fred Couples beat Lee Trevino by a shot. The purse was $800,000, of which Couples pocketed $144,000.
By comparison, if Henry were to win, the customary 10 percent fee to Brooks would be $171,000.