Masters 2015: 'As a caddie, you're just one shot away from being fired,' says Vijay Singh's caddie Cayce Kerr

Caddies, a bit like poker players, have to successfully meld mathematics and psychology, but without being able to sit on their backsides all da

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The Independent Online

When Vijay Singh pitched in for birdie from 44 yards at the first hole of the Masters on Thursday, his caddie deliberately refrained from showing too much excitement.

Cayce Kerr is working his 29th Masters and has been around long enough to know the importance of keeping  his player on an emotional even keel.

“You know there are going to be lows as well as highs, so what are you going to say then, ‘You’re terrible,’?” Kerr said. “You’ve got to have some balance. You don’t want to get too excited.”

Caddies, a bit like poker players, have to successfully meld mathematics and psychology, but without being able to sit on their backsides all day.

And unlike their boss, a caddie cannot afford to let his head drop and attitude sour, no matter how bad the player is performing. “When they’re not playing good, that’s when you have to do a better job,” said Kerr.

“You can never have a bad day as a caddie. What’s kept me in the game for so long is that I caddie as though I’m one shot away from being fired on any given day, so that  makes you perform, or at least try to.”

Caddies have some relatively easy tasks, like keeping their player supplied with water – “you don’t want your horse to die on you,” Kerr joked – but sooner or later in almost every round there is a moment of truth. A player, undecided on club selection, asks for the caddie’s opinion, and the bagman cannot shy away from an answer. He must go out on a limb and, if wrong, incur the player’s wrath, or in some more extreme cases termination of employment.

“You know your player is going to ask you to make a couple of calls that will put you on the line,” Kerr said, offering an example of a situation at the 18th hole.

“Normally you have the answer but at Augusta because of the wind, the elements here can change rapidly. You have to pay attention.”

Singh had 180 yards to the hole with his third shot, and asked Kerr what club he thought he should hit.

“It was downwind and he was running a little hot,” Kerr said. “Normally it would be a seven-iron and he asked if an eight could get there and I said ‘yes’.

“It’s not a good time to give a bad club. When they’re not playing good, that’s when you have to do a better job.”

Fortunately for Kerr, it was the correct call, though a two-putt bogey for a three-over 75 was hardly a good day in the office for the 2000 Masters champion.

 

Kerr, nevertheless, was as upbeat as ever as he enjoyed a quick lunch in the Augusta caddie shack before meeting his boss on the range for a one-hour post-round practice session in the relentless afternoon sun.

Singh is 52, but still retains the same workaholic attitude that took him from a humble upbringing in a Fiji shack to three major titles and the world No 1 ranking.

After that, Kerr, who arrived at the course at 6am, was finally able to return to his rented house and nurse the right ankle that he broke in January when he slipped on ice in Chicago.

He is still limping slightly, and the Masters is his first tournament back, but  he would not miss it for the world.

The Californian has worked for six different players at  the Masters, five of whom have won a Green Jacket, though not when Kerr was on the bag.

“I start thinking about the next Masters the Sunday I leave here every year,” he said. “When you’re caddying sometimes you count  down the holes. You don’t do that here.

“Caddying overall is exhilarating but here it’s extra  special.”

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