By Steve Keating
AUGUSTA, Georgia (Reuters) – A lot of fathers found themselves out of jobs on Friday as golfers playing in the Augusta National Women’s Amateur (ANWA) opted for club caddies over daddies for the final round.
After the opening two rounds of the 54-hole tournament staged at Champions Retreat in nearby Evans, awed young women, many with their equally-awed fathers on their bags, got first look at the revered layout that is home for the Masters, the year’s first major.
But walking with their daughters in Friday’s practice round is as close as some dad caddies will come to Augusta National with several deciding on a switch and handing their fathers pink slips.
While dads may know their daughters better than anyone, local caddies, some who have worked Augusta National for decades, know the course and particularly the baffling greens.
For some, including Jennifer Kupcho, who will take a one- shot lead over Mexico’s Maria Fassi into the final round, that kind of knowledge trumps family ties.
The world’s top-ranked amateur, Kupcho’s decision to go with a local caddie was an easy one, although the American laughed she had not yet broken the news to her father Michael.
“I had my caddie there with me the first time I played so we had fun and he knows what he is doing,” said Kupcho, who used the same caddie Brian Murphy when she played Augusta as a guest. “I think he’s hired.”
Instead of being part of an historic day on which the first competitive women’s round will be played at Augusta National and a champion crowned, Michael Kupcho will watch from outside the ropes along with Kevin Harford, who was on his daughter Haylee’s bag the first two rounds.
A tough choice, however, was made easier when Harford told his daughter the smart move might be to go with a local caddie.
“We came into the day kind of trying to figure it out and I was going to decide afterwards but I think I am going to go to a local caddie because they know so much,” said Haylee, who sits at one-over, six off the pace.
“But my dad was able to kind of walk to get some notes and feel it out so we could make that decision.
“He’s willing to do anything that makes me happy and is best for me so he kind of came to me on the second hole and said I don’t know maybe you should take the caddie.”
For Spain’s Marta Perez, who describes herself as a golfer who plays with passion and emotion, having someone on her bag who can read her is more important than reading greens.
And in her case father Jose knows best.
“My dad, he is my coach, he started coaching me when I was eight years old so this is special for me,” said Perez.
“We had a discussion if it was better to have a local caddie tomorrow but I want to stick with our plan I think it is great that he is here, he knows me more than anyone.
“I think it is special for him to be here with me because we are going to remember this forever.”
(Editing by Ed Osmond)