Nelly Korda needed a caddie. So she reached out to Tiger Woods
CLIFTON, N.J. — Nelly Korda has a new face on the bag this week, but he’s no stranger to golf fans. He’s one of the most respected loopers in the game. He’s even been in the news a bit lately.
The need for a substitute caddie in New Jersey comes as Korda’s regular bagman, Jason McDede, takes paternity leave. And with Cantlay taking the week off in the lead up to the PGA Championship, LaCava had an open week to caddie for the women’s world No. 1.
“I knew that [Jason] was going to be out this week on paternity leave,” Korda said. “I was looking for a fill-in, and what better way to learn more and maybe even pick his brain than have one of the greats caddie for me? It was a shot in the dark, but it got done.”
With McDede and his wife, LPGA player Caroline Masson, expecting in early May, Korda knew she would need a fill-in. So, her team contacted Woods’ team and inquired about the possibility of LaCava working for Korda this week. In early March, Korda got the confirmation that LaCava was in.
“Tiger and Nelly had a little back and forth,” LaCava told GOLF.com. “Nelly knew that Tiger wasn’t playing, so she said, ‘Is it ok to borrow Joe for the week?'”
Korda might be the top-ranked player in the women’s game, but LaCava is a star in his own right. As the duo came off the course following a first-round 72, fans asked for autographs and pictures with Woods’ longtime looper.
“It was fun,” LaCava said. “Lot of Giants fans — I’m always comfortable around Giants fans.”
Korda and LaCava appeared comfortable together, too. The duo were in lockstep much of the day at Upper Montclair Country Club, making three birdies and three bogeys on the A.W. Tillinghast track.
“He’s very precise with his numbers,” Korda said. “Even though [Jason] is as well, I think every caddie is different. He’s not used to seeing girls whip out range finders, that’s for sure. Even during practice rounds he didn’t use his rangefinder once. He stepped everything off.”
The admiration between Korda and LaCava is mutual. When asked for the biggest differences between Woods and Korda, LaCava instead rattled off a list of ways they are the same.
“They’re bot great competitors,” LaCava said. “Both tops in their sport, or Tiger was at one time. They’re kind of built the same. Both practice hard, work at it really hard. There aren’t so many differences as there are similarities.”
With Cantlay competing next week in the PGA Championship, and McDede due back from paternity leave, this partnership is likely a one-off, but both Korda and LaCava are making the most of the opportunity.
“Even if I get to pick his brain here and there throughout the week and learn one thing,” Korda said. “I’ll take it into my future and better myself.”