Golf

Making the Rounds: Sacramento caddie John Wood has new player – and TV gig

Sacramento’s John Wood, left, confers with Hunter Mahan during the first round of the Cadillac Championship golf tournament Friday, March 7, 2014, in Doral, Fla. Wood is now working as a caddie for Matt Kuchar.
Sacramento’s John Wood, left, confers with Hunter Mahan during the first round of the Cadillac Championship golf tournament Friday, March 7, 2014, in Doral, Fla. Wood is now working as a caddie for Matt Kuchar. The Associated Press

Veteran PGA Tour caddie John Wood isn’t one to let grass grow, which sounds odd for someone who makes his living on the golf course, but it’s never been more true.

The lifelong Sacramento resident has parted ways with Hunter Mahan after nine years and six PGA Tour wins. He has teamed with Matt Kuchar, for whom he worked for the first time last week.

I think they’ve watched Bones (Jim Mackay) and I communicate with our players over the years. We’re very communicative but also economical with our words.

Caddie John Wood about joining the Golf Channel broadcast team his weekend for PGA Tour event

Wood also will be part of the television broadcast of the RSM Classic in Sea Island, Ga., this week when the Golf Channel debuts on-course caddie commentators. He and Jim “Bones” Mackay, Phil Mickelson’s caddie, will offer perspective on Friday and Saturday.

The project has been in the works for a year, Wood said.

“I think they’ve watched Bones and I communicate with our players over the years,” he said. “We’re very communicative but also economical with our words.”

Kuchar’s swing coach, Chris O’Connell, will sub for Wood this week.

As for his split with Mahan, Wood said it was just time for a change and everything between the two remains amicable.

“Nine years is a pretty substantial run these days,” he said. “It just wasn’t clicking. It was time to look at somebody else for a change. Change up the mojo.”

Mahan, 33, is 59th in the world ranking and has been a fixture on U.S. Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup teams, as has Kuchar, 37, who has seven PGA Tour wins and is ranked 17th. Both have top-10 finishes in every major championship but neither has won a major title. And Wood makes no secret of his desire to be part of wins at the highest level.

Wood, 46, said he has gotten to know Kuchar, who recently parted with Lance Bennett, his caddie for eight years, in team rooms at international events. Those are intensely intimate settings, he said, so there won’t be any surprises.

“He’s fun to be around. Very social. A positive attitude,” Wood said. “As a caddie, the one thing that’s great is somebody with a great attitude.

“He has a tremendous work ethic. He’s totally committed, which I love. He’s just a consummate professional. It’s going to be a great fit for both of us.”

There shouldn’t be much of a learning curve, Wood said. The distances Kuchar hits each club and his ball flight can be figured out in one practice round, he said. They already know their personalities mesh, and preferences regarding the dissemination of information come quickly.

“Matt has an extremely high golf IQ and may not need as much information as some other guys,” Wood said.

The real test will come in pressure situations. Wood said he’ll take cues from body language and voice inflection. When the going gets tough, the time between shots can be as critical as assisting with the shots.

Nine years is a pretty substantial run these days. It just wasn’t clicking. It was time to look at somebody else for a change. Change up the mojo.

Caddie John Wood on why he stopped working with Hunter Mahan

“Sometimes when guys get in contention, you need to have a strategy ready for the walk between shots or the waits on tees to relieve some pressure,” Wood said. “That can be just as important as any golf strategy.”

As for that book he’s rumored to be writing?

“I may write a book one day, but it will be awhile.”

Back to back, Jack

No, that wasn’t a typo in last week’s hole-in-one listings. Rick Yount aced the seventh hole at Valley Hi on consecutive days to end October.

He used a 5-iron from 185 yards on Friday. When he reached the seventh tee Saturday, the previous day’s ace was, of course, a topic.

“Everybody remembered the evening before when they were getting free drinks,” Yount said. “The group behind us drove over to watch me hit. ‘Let me see you do it again,’ one player cracked.”

He hit a high draw from 180 yards that looked good in the air.

“I looked down to stick my 6-iron back in the bag,” Yount said. “When I looked up, the ball had disappeared.”

The bar had been alerted before Yount reached the green. Drinks were on him for the second day in a row.

The aces were the first two for the Elk Grove architect, 60, whose handicap index dropped from 6.8 to 5.5 on Sunday.

▪ In the ho-hum category, Sacramento’s Mike Ward made his 18th ace last week, a 5-hybrid from 178 yards at Del Paso’s No. 14.

Longevity additions

Last Wednesday’s story about longtime current area head pros was accompanied by a list of past pros who held top area jobs for long periods. The failure to include Tom Lo Presti, the head pro at Haggin Oaks for 59 years, was clearly a shank. Bus Pendleton (26 years at Bing Maloney) and Tom Doris (20 years at Bing Maloney) deserved recognition, too.

Steve Pajak: 916-326-5526, @Steve_Pajak

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