One Shining Moment

This is how quickly the lives and fortunes of a PGA TOUR caddy can change. This is how quickly a seemingly bright future, one spent traveling the world and carrying the bag of one of the hottest players on Tour, can turn dark.

In 2015, it was Bodine’s freak injury — coming mere months after the high point of his professional career — that had threatened to bring the whole thing crashing down. Now, as Bodine stood outside the medical tent at Augusta National, another freak injury — again, hard on the heels of the highest of emotional highs — once again put Bodine’s career stability at risk.

In the moment, however, Bodine wasn’t thinking at all about himself, or his future. He was simply worried about his friend.

Finau had managed to pop the ankle — it was dislocated, not broken — back into place and finish the par-3 tournament. But, it was now rapidly swelling, and in the moment, nothing about the future was clear. Would Tony miss a week, a month? Could he possibly miss the rest of the season?

“The timing was just sad and scary,” Bodine says. “The first golf tournament Tony ever watched on TV was The Masters, when Tiger (Woods) won his first Masters. And, now he’s in the medical tent at The Masters and it doesn’t look like he can play.”

“Sure, the thought crossed my mind that I might be home for six-to-eight months and have to find a job in the meantime,” he adds. “But, my real concern was Tony.”

After what seemed like a long time, Finau limped out of the tent and delivered the news to Bodine: the caddy had better be ready, because there was no way Finau was going to miss his chance to play in The Masters.

Nobody, not even Bodine, knew exactly how much pain Finau was in as he stepped to the first tee the next morning. Bodine, who had seen the dark-purple, swollen ankle for himself, couldn’t believe that Finau was really going to try to play.

“I just thought that it couldn’t be as bad as it looks,” Bodine says. “I decided that as the round went along, I wouldn’t bug him about it. He was a soldier. I got a real sense of his toughness. He was in a lot of pain.

“I mean, what he did in Augusta that day was heroic.”

What Finau did that day was shoot a four-under 68. To those who had bet against him even playing at all, it was a resounding announcement that 2018 was going to be his breakout season.

Finau finished the tournament tied for 10th, and followed that with seven more top-10 finishes, including fifth at the U.S. Open, a tie for ninth at The Open Championship and second at the Northern Trust.

At the end of the year, Finau and Bodine were given one of golf’s highest honors — the chance to represent their country at the Ryder Cup. Wearing the red, white and blue of Team USA, Finau went 2-1 in three Ryder Cup matches, winning his singles match 6-and-4 over Tommy Fleetwood. Merely an up-and-comer at the start of the 2018 season, by the end of it, Finau was ranked as the No. 9 player in the world.

They work really well together,” says Brian Sullivan, a former caddy for Mat Goggin. “Tony’s not a snotty, successful golfer-jerk. Greg fits right into that. Tony and Greg are very competitive, of course, but they’re really nice guys. Greg’s super-friendly. Very smart. Very able. He is a cool dude. He’s a good-looking dude.

“If you look at it, Greg’s got it going on right now. He’s got to be loving this.”

Indeed, there’s a lot to love. The Bodines have welcomed a son named Brooks, who still is young enough to come along for some of the PGA’s ride. Bodine is healthy and young enough himself to handle the physical part of his job. And, he enjoys the company of his boss.

“I’ve become a better person the more I’m around Tony,” Bodine told Golf Monthly. “The company you keep creates who you are, and if you aren’t around the best person every day for nine months of the year, that wears on you.”

As for the future, he doesn’t want to carry a bag as long as Fluff Cowan, who is 71 and still caddying for Jim Furyk. But, he’s living in the present, enjoying the moment.

“Everything is going well,” he says. “Right now, every year when my new caddy credential comes in the mail, I get excited and feel like, ‘Let’s go!’ But, I’m taking it year by year.”

“He’s in a great situation,” Sullivan says. “Some caddies stay in it because they need the money, but that won’t be Greg. He’s got his act together.”

Steve Kelley is a veteran of The Seattle Timesand a regular contributor to Cascade Golfer.

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