The heroes of Saturday’s PGA Championship deluge? The caddies
ROCHESTER, N.Y. — It was cold, it was wet and there was no end in sight. Saturday’s third round of the PGA Championship began as a slog.
Professional golfers know the drill by now: Throw on the rain suit. Grab an umbrella. Hang a towel to keep it dry. Perhaps switch to a rain glove.
But for the caddies, the work was only beginning.
On the 4th hole, after Rory McIlroy hacked his second shot out of the rough, his caddie, Harry Diamond, handed his man an umbrella. Off went Rory, but Diamond stayed behind, carefully drying off his iron and and stuffing a towel underneath the hood protecting McIlroy’s clubs.
A volunteer offered to hold an umbrella over Diamond as he prepared to take McIlroy’s staff bag — stuffed to the brim with extra rain gear, towels and the weight of absorbed water — to the next shot.
“I wish I had an extra arm,” Diamond said with a grin.
On a day when Oak Hill received nearly an inch of rain, the caddies were the ones trusted to keep equipment dry and players performing at the highest levels. That’s no easy task — and particularly not on this golf course.
“They probably wish they had an extra set of hands on them,” said Justin Rose, echoing Diamond’s plight. “There’s a lot going on with juggling. I feel like they’re doing everything at twice the speed.”
While caddies aren’t allowed to hold umbrellas over players as they take their stance to hit a shot, they are allowed to keep their man sheltered until that point. On Saturday, caddies kept their players dry as long as the rules allowed. That delicate dance is necessary for those playing, but it means a ton of extra work for those looping.
“There’s a bit more teamwork involved out there,” Rose said. “Just me being more patient after a shot, not just racing down the fairway to my next shot, kind of going back to the bag, having the umbrella there, making sure he’s got time to get the club dry back in the bag.”
Once it comes time to stroll down the fairway, though it’s the player who takes the umbrella. In the extra time needed to transfer the club into a rain-protected golf bag, the caddies usually get drenched.
“How good he is at keeping the bag dry is very, very important so I can just take the umbrella and go,” Jon Rahm said of his looper Adam Hayes. “He sacrifices. He must be carrying about 35 pounds of water on him right now. You know, it’s the little things that maybe I don’t even realize, just making sure the grips are dry, the club heads are dry and positioning himself to help me out as much as possible.”
One notable sacrifice came during McIlroy’s head fake on No. 15. After a few dry holes, the rain suddenly returned as he set up to hit his tee shot on the par-3.
As the rain intensified, harder even than McIlroy’s front nine, he backed off. Diamond was standing by, rain jacket in hand.
It’s thankless work, to be sure. But on Saturday at the PGA Championship, it was worthy of a few thanks. Rahm seemed to agree.
“On a day like today, it’s a lot harder for them, I would say, than it is for us.”