Legendary Pinehurst caddie Willie McRae dies at age 85

**ADVANCE FOR WEEKEND EDITIONS MAY 5-6**Caddie Willie McRae watches at Pinehurst No. 2 golf course designed by Donald Ross in Pinehurst, N.C., Monday, April 23, 2007. The course that frustrated the world's best players during two U.S. Opens and tested the toughness of countless other duffers celebrates its 100th birthday resolute in its status as one of the sport's toughest courses to tame. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome) AP Photo/Gerry Broome

Legendary Pinehurst caddie Willie McRae dies at age 85

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Legendary Pinehurst caddie Willie McRae dies at age 85

Legendary Pinehurst looper Willie McRae, who caddied for presidents, athletic superstars and anyone else who asked for nearly 75 years, had died.

He was 85. McRae had retired from caddying at Pinehurst last year.

McRae caddied for five presidents, athletes from Mickey Mantle to Michael Jordan and golf greats such as Gene Sarazen, Bobby Jones and Sam Snead. McRae caddied in several of the game’s most notable championships, starting with the 1951 Ryder Cup at Pinehurst No. 2, and extending to multiple U.S. Opens and U.S Women’s Opens.

But McRae’s wit, unrivaled knowledge of Pinehurst and his legendary golf acumen were not reserved for the the elites of society and sport. He began caddying at Pinehurst with his father at age 10 in 1943. He earned $1.75 a loop, along with a 50-cent tip.

McRae usually caddied for the common man. Of course, there was little common about McRae.

“To me,” McRae often said, “everybody’s a celebrity.”

Caddie Willie McRae was a fixture at Pinehurst No. 2 for almost 75 years. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome).

Eamon Lynch of Golfweek recalled one time when McRae was looping for him at Pinehurst.

“He caddied for me once years ago,” Lynch posted on Twitter. “Most memorable moment: my shot to a par-3 was right on line but came up short in a bunker. “That was a mother-in-law,” Willie said, shaking his head. “It looked good leaving.”

While in the U.S. Army, McRae captained the golf team at Fort Dix in New Jersey. There, he would often team with the late Earl Woods, Tiger’s father, winning local tournaments.

“Caddies possess an extraordinary knowledge of the game and its players, and by word of mouth, each caddie develops his own reputation,” World Golf Hall-of-Famer and two-time Masters Champion Ben Crenshaw wrote upon McRae’s retirement in October 2017. “In this sense, Willie was always highly sought after by so many fine players who played Pinehurst and returned there. Great players such as Jack Burke Jr., Tommy Bolt, Gene Sarazen and Julius Boros – just to name a few – specifically asked for Willie’s expertise. That these wonderful players sought out Willie is high praise indeed.”

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