CHARLOTTE — Tiger Woods' longtime caddie, Joe LaCava, will begin working full-time for world No. 4 Patrick Cantlay at this week's Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow. Cantlay's camp confirmed the move is permanent, and that Woods gave LaCava his blessing before making the switch.
"This all stems with Tiger not playing much going forward," LaCava said Tuesday. "Two to six tournaments. So Tiger and I have talked about, if something were to come up, feel free to do something because he knows how much I miss it and how much I miss caddieing. So when this opportunity arose, I checked with Tiger, and he said you'd be crazy not to take the job, go for it, go win some tournaments and have a great time.
"It was a very tough phone call. We're still very tight. It wasn't like it ended when he's healthy and gonna play a full schedule. It's a different set of circumstances. But like with Fred (Couples) 10, 12 years ago, I'd like to think we're still going to continue to be good friends, text back and forth."
LaCava said he is fully committed to working for Cantlay, a nine-time winner on the PGA Tour, and that if he's wanted, he'd caddie for Cantlay even if Woods returns for an event or two.
Woods underwent a "subtalar fusion" surgery shortly after he withdrew from the Masters after being in "constant pain." There is no timetable for his return, though it is almost certain he will miss the year's remaining three major championships. Woods has maintained after his traumatic car accident in February 2021 that his days as a full-time touring professional are over and that he'll have to pick and choose events; he's entered five since he returned at the 2022 Masters and has made the cut four times but has completed 72 holes just once.
LaCava has caddied for other players during Woods' numerous injury absences, including his former boss Fred Couples in PGA Tour Champions events and even for Cantlay at the 2021 Northern Trust. None of those, however, were permanent in nature as this one is.
"The thing about Joe is he's as loyal as loyal gets," Justin Thomas said Tuesday. "The amount of time that he spent at home when 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.
"But at the same time, very similar to Bones, he's competitive and he's a caddie. I mean, they love to caddie and they love to win golf tournaments and they love being in that moment. I'm sure that weighed into his decision as well. Obviously 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. 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 and his longtime caddie, Matt 'Rev" Minister, split up after the Zurich Classic of New Orleans.
Woods and LaCava teamed up to win eight PGA Tour events, including the 2019 Masters, and have grown to be close friends off the golf-course.