PGA Tour caddie Don Cooper of North Augusta expected his boss, Lucas Glover, to make the Masters Tournament one day. Just not this soon.
The time line speeded up when the former Clemson golfer holed out a 36-yard bunker shot for birdie on the 72nd to win the PGA Tour's Funai Classic on Oct. 23 by one shot.
The victory vaulted Glover from 59th on the money list to 28th with two events to play in the season. Since the Masters takes the top 40 off the money list at the season's end, Cooper knew Glover was in. Glover ended up 30th on the money list and will be receiving his first Masters invitation in early 2006.
Before the Funai victory, "we were pushing for the top 40, but he wasn't playing that good and wanted to at least finish in the top 70," Cooper said. "When we got into the top 30, I was pretty shocked."
The Masters berth will bring Cooper back to where it all began.
Cooper, 40, caddied at Augusta National "on and off" for five years until 1999, when he struck out for the Nationwide Tour.
"That's going to be a pretty special event," Cooper said of the Masters. "I know that place pretty well. I'm going to have a lot of fun with that."
Cooper and Glover hooked up near the end of the 2003 Nationwide Tour season, but they had known each other for a while.
"The guy I was working for on the Nationwide Tour and I didn't get along," Cooper said. "We were paired with Lucas a few times and he said if I ever needed a job to call him. He called me when I quit that guy and I've been with him ever since."
In their fourth tournament together, they teamed to win Gila River Classic and Glover finished 17th on the Nationwide Tour money list, which earned him a PGA Tour card for 2004.
He failed to keep his card after that season (134th on the money list) and had to go back to qualifying school. There, Glover birdied three of the final five holes to get his card back by a shot.
He went to win more than $2 million this season, $792,000 from the Funai Classic victory.
"The first time we were paired with Lucas I was very impressed with his game," Cooper said. "I was telling people that this kid plays at a different level because he hits it so long and straight."
One area where Glover struggles is in his bunker play. For the season, he ranked 167th on the tour in sand saves (60 of 143, or 42.6 percent).
One of those 60 came when it counted the most, on the 72nd hole of the Funai Classic. Glover, who had just made a 46-footer birdie putt on No. 17, was tied for the lead with Tom Pernice Jr. and Geoff Ogilvy and Justin Rose, when he came to No. 18. Glover was the only one to make birdie on No. 18.
"When he knocked it in, it pretty much shocked all of us," Cooper said.
HE WAS THE KING: Pat Wiley gave himself the nickname "King of the Patch" and nobody ever disputed it.
The time was the late 1970s and 1980s and Wiley, who died at 54 earlier this month, was almost unbeatable at Augusta Municipal Golf Course, better known as the Patch.
Anyone who knew Wiley would describe him as a colorful and sometimes troubled person (not many people ever got suspended from the Patch, but he did for a short time). He was also one of the best golfers Augusta ever produced.
Wiley won numerous amateur tournaments in the area, a few of which I covered.
I would secretly hope Wiley would contend in tournaments because he gave such great quotes. Sometimes, you didn't even need to talk to him after the round. What he said on the course was interesting enough.
In the first round of the Old Milwaukee Open one year, Wiley made a 40-foot birdie putt on the Patch's second hole, which was in terrible condition that year.
When the ball dropped in the cup, Wiley screamed, "Katmandu!"
On the next hole, a par-4, Wiley hit a good drive, then duffed his second shot, leaving him 90 yards to the hole. He promptly holed that out for birdie.
He then turned to his playing partner and said, "they might as well wrap the trophy up for me."
There are many stories like that about Wiley, who was also a student of his golf swing.
One time during a friendly round, he hit a bad tee shot. Wiley shrugged it off, for good reason. He told he wasn't looking at the ball during the backswing; he was watching his shadow to see how his swing looked.
Reach David Westin at (706) 724-0851 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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