Caddies embrace Phoenix Open craziness, too

Above: Joe Cruz, caddie for Adam Hadwin, enjoys the Phoenix Open crowd, too. (Photo and story by Luke Wright/Cronkite News) Lifestyle | 3 Feb |

The Waste Management Phoenix Open is the most attended PGA event of the year, and not only are players excited to be a part of the field, but caddies enjoy it, too.

They might not share the spotlight, but when the opportunity to participate in such a unique event presents itself, they savor it like anyone else.

“For one week a year it’s pretty fun,” said Joe Cruz, the caddie for Canadian pro Adam Hadwin. “You get to feel what baseball, football and basketball players go through day in and day out.”

Cruz has been caddying for Hadwin for four years, and he’s noticed a specific type of player that performs well.

“I think the guys that do best are the guys who embrace and go with it,” Cruz said.

Even younger caddies who haven’t fully experienced the tournament understand the benefit of playing to the crowd.

“You have to go in with the right attitude,” said Austin Kaiser, the second-year caddie for Xander Schauffele, who finished 3-under on Thursday. “You can’t be a stickler about it. It’s better to have a lot of noise then just have a couple hecklers.”

Although almost everyone loves the atmosphere that the tournament brings, there are those who are happy that it’s just a one-week affair.

“I think if it was every week it would be crazy,” said Julien Trudeau, who is caddying for Colt Knost. “But for just this week it’s kind of fun and you just have to embrace it.”

The Phoenix Open has become such a massive event that it’s become hard for those who partake in it to even notice anymore.

“I don’t think I’ve seen it grow,” Cruz said. “It’s always been pretty big.”

Although the event breaks its own attendance record every year, it’s hard to tell if you are part of the action.

“There’s so many people it’s hard to say there’s more people,” Trudeau said.

Although the event has a different feel, the caddies don’t change their approach. The only slight difference is one that most people would never think about..

“The only thing I do differently is on 16, I’ve got to get the wind,” Cruz said. “Other than that, same ol’ same ol.’ ”

The Phoenix Open has evolved into a spectacle that golfers and caddies just don’t see anywhere else, and it’s hard to find someone who has something negative to say about the tournament.

Kaiser mentioned how unreal the atmosphere is. Cruz enjoys the rowdy crowd that comes with the event. Trudeau, who lives just a mile away from the course, loves not only how fun the tournament is, but how he can sleep in his own bed for the event.

The cheers might not be directed at the caddies themselves, but the effect is not lost on them.

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