Report: Tiger Woods’ caddie Joe LaCava makes full-time move to Patrick Cantlay

Tiger Woods and Joe Lacava at the 2023 masters

Joe LaCava and Tiger Woods, pictured at the 2023 Masters, first teamed up in 2011.

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Patrick Cantlay has a new caddie this week, and yes, you might recognize him.

Tiger Woods’ long-time caddie Joe LaCava will be on the bag for Cantlay at this week’s Wells Fargo Championship in Charlotte and for the “foreseeable future,” according to Golf Channel’s Todd Lewis. Lewis, who broke the news in a tweet from Quail Hollow Club, added “this is not a one-off but a full-time move for LaCava.”

Woods or Cantlay have yet to comment on the changes.

While the move is surprising, it might not be completely unexpected.

Woods, 47, underwent ankle surgery after the Masters, which is just the latest operation in a long line of procedures the 15-time major champion has had over the years. He also had major surgeries following a February 2021 car accident, not to mention several from the previous two decades.

Woods didn’t specify a timeline for his return after his latest procedure, but it will keep him out of this month’s PGA Championship, very likely the U.S. Open in June and Open Championship in July and quite possibly the rest of the PGA Tour season.

But even without this latest setback, Woods’ playing schedule is limited these days. He’s said several times his goal is to play major championships and one or two events beyond that, like what he did earlier this season when he teed it up at the Genesis Invitational, a tournament he hosts that’s run by his organization.

LaCava, who previously caddied for Fred Couples for 22 years, teamed up with Woods in 2011. They won 11 times together, including a five-win 2013 season and the 2019 Masters, Woods’ only major victory with LaCava. In their most recent start, Woods withdrew from the Masters during a weather-delayed third round, citing plantar fasciitis.

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As Woods’ injuries have added up and he’s missed significant time, LaCava has been mostly on the sidelines, save for a few spot starts. He caddied for Cantlay at the 2021 Northern Trust, but he’d never taken a full-time gig with another player.

Cantlay isn’t scheduled to meet with the media until Wednesday, but Justin Thomas, a close friend of Woods, was asked about it on Tuesday.

“[LaCava is] as loyal as loyal gets,” Thomas said. “The amount of time that he spent at home [with Woods out with injuries] when guys would, I mean, there’s so many guys out here that would have him caddie in an instant, when he was loyal to Tiger and Tiger’s probably telling him go caddie, go do whatever, and Joe, that’s just not the kind of guy Joe is.”

Thomas compared it to his own caddie, Jim “Bones” Mackay, who was the long-time looper for Phil Mickelson and then left to take an on-course reporter role for NBC. Eventually, Bones picked up Thomas’ bag and has been there since. Part of that was due to missing the competitiveness that comes with tournament golf, which Thomas said likely influenced LaCava as well.

“I don’t know the details and don’t know how long it is or what’s going on, but I know that that’s something that would never ever, ever be done if Tiger would not OK that,” Thomas said. “That’s not the kind of guy Joe is, kind of guy Tiger is and same with Patrick. There definitely was some kind of conversation that went on there.”

Cantlay, ranked 4th in the world, has eight career PGA Tour victories, with his most recent victory coming at the BMW Championship last August. The 31-year-old pro is often among the top two or three names to be included in the list of best players without a major title.

Cantlay had previously employed Matt Minister as a caddie. Their partnership started in 2017.

Josh Berhow

Golf.com Editor

As GOLF.com’s managing editor, Berhow handles the day-to-day and long-term planning of one of the sport’s most-read news and service websites. He spends most of his days writing, editing, planning and wondering if he’ll ever break 80. Before joining GOLF.com in 2015, he worked at newspapers in Minnesota and Iowa. A graduate of Minnesota State University in Mankato, Minn., he resides in the Twin Cities with his wife and two kids. You can reach him at joshua_berhow@golf.com.

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