In 1986, a 46-year-old Jack Nicklaus won the Masters, putting an 18th major title on his legacy six years after he won what everyone thought was going to be his last major.
In 2019, a 43-year-old Tiger Woods won the Masters, putting a 15th major title on his legacy 11 years after he won what everyone thought was going to be his last major.
Anyone who thinks history doesn’t repeat itself is advised to read those two sentences again.
Since 2011, caddie Joe LaCava has been by Tiger’s side through thick and thin, carrying his clubs and watching Woods struggle through aging, injury, inconsistency and just plain bad luck before Woods finally emerged in triumph Sunday.
LaCava talked to The Caddie Network on Thursday about the aftermath of Woods’ stunning Masters championship.
“We just kind of looked at each other and soaked it all in,” he said.
“It was still only seven minutes since he putted out and it’s hard to take it all in at that point, but we just took a deep breath,” LaCava said. “Nothing was really said. He basically said, ‘We did it,’ again. But we got to share the moment and smile at each other. It was such an achievement, a proud moment more than anything.
“Nothing needed to be said because we could read each other’s minds.”
Woods expressed his gratitude toward his caddy after the initial shock of the moment wore off.
“Tiger did send a message that said, ‘We did it, appreciate you hanging in there with me, I love you like a brother,’” LaCava said. “And I sent one back very similar to that.
“Hopefully we’ll have a nice sit-down dinner and rehash everything at the next tournament and not necessarily celebrate it, but enjoy it and reminisce a little bit.”
LaCava has been everywhere in pro golf; his first Masters win came carrying clubs for Fred Couples in 1992.
Couples is a good friend of Woods; the two have played plenty of practice rounds together at Augusta National over the years.
“(Couples) was texting me all week,” LaCava said. “Believe it or not, he told me, ‘I’m just so excited for you,’ Sunday after the fact, ‘if not more excited than when I won in ’92.’ That’s just who he is. And he’s always loved Tiger throughout the years.”
He added, “Fred and I have had a great relationship and continue to have a great relationship, and I think what he did there with me is why everybody loves Fred, because he’s thinking about (Woods and LaCava) versus his huge deal in 1992.”
LaCava and Woods will be off to Bethpage Black for the PGA Championship in May, which, thanks to a recent scheduling change, has become golf’s second major rather than its fourth.
When asked what the atmosphere will be like on the course where Woods won the 2002 U.S. Open, LaCava had ideas.
“I can’t even imagine,” he said. “I think the atmosphere is going to be off the hook after winning the Masters. I think it would be anyways because the New York crowds are very enthusiastic, and I can’t wait because the PGA of America is probably going to come up with some awesome threesome grouping for us.
“Tiger with two other big names like Brooks (Koepka), Dustin (Johnson) kind of thing or Tiger, Rory (McIlroy) and J.T. (Justin Thomas). … It’s just going to be an incredible grouping. That will be off the hook, too.”
Joe LaCava has been everywhere in the world of pro golf, but standing by Tiger Woods when he looked washed up seemed a puzzling decision, especially since caddies are paid based on how well their players perform — until LaCava had the best seat in the house for the ultimate reward.
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