After ’emotional’ split with old boss, Tour caddie cashes in with new boss
Cameron Young and Paul Tesori’s new partnership couldn’t have started much better.
On the duo’s first nine holes as player and caddie at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play last week, Young made nine consecutive 3s. The only thing you could nitpick is that Austin Country Club’s front side is a par-35, so it was “only” eight under.
“It was great; I’ve obviously been around him a lot,” Young said of Tesori after winning that opening match in pool play against Davis Thompson. “I don’t think I could have done a whole lot better on that front nine. I really didn’t miss one.”
Tesori is best known for his successful 12-year run with Webb Simpson. But on Monday of last week Simpson announced that he and Tesori were parting ways, saying in a statement, “I am happy for the great opportunity Paul has in going to work with my fellow [Wake Forest] Demon Deacon and friend, Cameron Young.”
Tesori and Young’s arrangement didn’t happen overnight.
On Monday, Tesori told GOLF.com the decision to end his working relationship with Simpson had actually been in the works for a few weeks, and that Simpson and Tesori played the Valspar Championship two weeks ago knowing it would be their final tournament together.
“I had more second and third and fourth and fifth thoughts than — it was so highly emotional,” said Tesori, who also caddied for Vijay Singh, Jerry Kelly and Sean O’Hair before teaming with Simpson. “One of the sweetest yet saddest moments in the world was when we got done on Sunday and Webb and [his wife] Dowd were there. All five of their kids were there and then me and my wife and all of us sobbing uncontrollably.”
The breakup wasn’t born out of Simpson’s recent struggles, but rather from life events lining up at the right time. Tesori, who is 51, has a daughter heading to college soon and a nine-year-old son. He said he’d ideally like to keep working until his son is 18.
Meanwhile, Simpson, who is 37, is entering the “second season” of his career, as Tesori called it.
“Webb still has great golf in him,” Tesori said of the man he called “a brother.” “He’ll still win again on the PGA Tour, but he’s just going to play a little bit less.”
Tesori has at times acted as Simpson’s swing coach, and he said he’ll still continue helping him with his game. They’re even planning to room together in three weeks at the RBC Heritage.
In addition to having the same alma mater, Simpson and Young have the same agent and have played practice rounds together since Young joined the Tour last year. Young said he and Simpson had played 22 rounds together the past year, making Tesori a natural fit when Young parted ways with Chad Reynolds after the Players.
At the same time, Tesori and Simpson were realizing as soon as the right opportunity came along, it was time for a change. So the pair went their separate ways after Simpson’s T7 in Tampa, and in came Tesori’s shiny new hot rod of a boss: the reigning PGA Tour Rookie of the Year.
Tesori said he was anxious heading into the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play. He had just spent six of seven weeks on the road, the last of which was an emotional rollercoaster in saying goodbye to Simpson. But thanks to an impromptu talk with Young and his father in a car while the team waited out a rain delay Tuesday before the event, the new team was primed for a big week.
“We talked about everything,” Tesori said. “We talked about kind of the game plan going forward. Process going forward. They had some great questions. I had some great questions. It was like a little team-building exercise if you want to call it that. But it really kind of clarified a lot of my questions, and I think for them as well, clarified their questions.”
What turned into a big week for Young, who lost in the finals to Sam Burns for his sixth career runner-up finish (and a $2.2 million payday), was also a long week for Tesori, who toted his man’s bag for seven rounds. It was such a grind, Tesori joked, he might be rethinking his goals.
“After five straight weeks and back-to-back 36 holes, I don’t know if nine years is really feasible,” he said with a laugh. “I’m really exhausted.”
Young, who is seeking his first Tour win, is 25, the same age that Simpson was when Tesori took over his bag.
Good karma? We’ll see.
Simpson got his first win that same year, at the Wyndham Championship. A year later, he won the U.S. Open.