Tracy Tatom on getting a last minute caddy job for Daniel Nisbet, winner of the NZ Open.
Tracy said the week never looked promising to get a caddy job but the call came when he was sitting in the clubhouse at Arrowtown on the Wednesday afternoon. My golfing buddy and fellow caddy Dermot and I were sitting back after our round when Dermot got the call from the caddymaster to say he had a pro bag and did he or Tracy want it. Dermot looked at me and said you can have it. Andrew, the caddymaster, told me to meet Daniel at The Hills driving range at 11am on Thursday morning. “I had never heard of Daniel Nisbet before” (he had played the NZ Open 5-times previously for one top 10 finish) so I was unsure how good he was so needless to say I never put a sly $10 to win on him at the TAB at odds of $126 - 1!
But Tracy quickly saw that Daniel had game and about the 3rd hole in he was impressed with Daniel's crisp ball striking. At the end of day one Tracy had watched a bogey free 9-under 63 and Daniel was sitting one shot of the lead. He did have to confess the single strap titleist tour bag was a little heavy on the first round but it did get lighter as the birdie putts started to drop. The highlight of the round was when playing the 13th hole he smoked his drive and striped a 3iron to 15 feet. Two pure shots and a missed eagle but tapped in for easy birdie!
Tracy was also quick to realize that Daniel liked to chat about anything but golf between shots. Over the ball we would talk about the yardage and the shape of the shot needed. But like most golfers Daniel had a couple of rules in that the clubs always had to be in the right place and I couldn't hand him a club as it was important to him to pull it from the bag. I also learn't quickly not to touch the end of the black gloss putter as the finger marks were tough to rub away and Daniel wanted a pure gloss finish.
They comfortably made the cut on Friday and for Tracy who had made the cut in 3 out of the last 4-years he was comfortable carrying the bag on the Saturday. But it was a little more special as it was the first time he was in the leading group just one shot behind Terry Pilkadaris. He could sense nothing was really happening but they still cruised to a smooth 4-under 67 and the ball striking was pretty flush. It was a challenge to keep Daniel positive when Terry Pilkadaris was on fire as he cruised around Millbrook shooting 62 but we just kept chatting and going about our business.
Tracy could see that the Sunday morning range session was really good and he and Daniel discussed staying positive and going for pins. They realized that if they got off to a good start anything was positive and if it happens it happens but they were still 5-shots behind Terry Pilkadaris.
Getting through the front nine in 3-under par but standing on the 10th tee Daniel knew he needed to do the business! The eagle putt he made on ten was huge. Daniel was extremely focused over that put and that really lifted him into contention and he was pumped and that this was going to be something pretty special. Playing the back nine 6-under par and finishing with four birdies in the last five holes under the pressure was amazing and I could sense the momentum change and Daniel winning of the tournament. But for Tracy standing in the middle of the 17th fairway on Sunday was pretty cool as he and Daniel is generally a chatty person but when I saw him standing quietly on the 18th tee I knew that I needed to get him engaged in to what had to be done and to not start thinking. We talked about the yardage, picked the target in the middle of the green and sure enough his 9-iron went exactly where it was suppose to go! Daniel talked about what needed to be done. With the front right sucker pin was a solid 7-iron but we looked at 180-metres being a safe yardage to the middle of the green and so the 6-iron was the play and then it was a long 30-metre put from the top tier down to the front for a safe 2-putt birdie 4.
Daniel is generally a chatty person but when I saw him standing quietly on the 18th tee I knew that I needed to get him engaged in to what had to be done and not to start thinking. We talked about the yardage, picked the target in the middle of the green and sure enough his 9-iron went exactly where it was suppose to go!
The first putt went a tad further than Daniel expected but he made a solid 1.5-metre putt back to the hole. For Tracy it wasn't until Daniel handed him the putter on the 18th green before he said “I think you may have just won the NZ Open”. Daniel was pretty emotional but we weren't 100% sure where we stood with Terry playing in the group behind us. It was possible for Terry to finish birdie birdie to tie Daniel but when he made par on 17 we knew only a miracle shot had the ability to tie us!
Once Tracy tidied up after the round and put the clubs away it was time to reflect on what had just happened. Sitting in the Champions Lounge with my mate Dermot who had said to me on Wednesday afternoon “you take the bag” was pretty surreal. Daniel had disappeared into the media scrum. Tracy admitted it did take him a couple of beers before it started to sink in and realize dreams can come true!
Having caddied at five previous NZ Open's he was fully aware that caddying is rolling the dice and you never know who is going to be on the best bag. Heck for a caddy from the tournament caddy pool to be on the winners bag is simply amazing as the top players all bring their own professional caddies so for a club golfer like me to have this thrill is simply amazing! I know Jordan Zunic also won with a caddy pool caddy (Jaimes Woods “Woody” from
Heck for a caddy from the tournament caddy pool to be on the winners bag is simply amazing as the top players all bring their own professional caddies so for a club golfer like me to have this thrill is simply amazing!
Royal Wellington Golf Club).
Tracy is quick to add yes he has the 18th hole flag from the 72nd green as per the caddy tradition and arrangements are already in place to carry Daniel's bag next year. But for now Tracy is looking to his next golfing bucket list adventure as he heads to the Masters at Augusta with his golfing mates from the Christchurch Golf Club.
Tracy Tatom drinks from the Brodie Breeze Challenge Cup.
Daniel Nisbet and his caddy Tracy Tatom pose with the Brodie Breeze Challenge Cup.
Daniel Nisbet poses with the Brodie Breeze Challenge Cup.
Daniel Nisbet and his caddy Tracy Tatom.