Caddie Chat: Ochoa's former looper, David Brooker, gets off to strong start on the bag of Suzann Pettersen
It was the Women’s British Open, 2007 at St. Andrews, the final hole. Sinking her last putt for her first majors’ win, Lorena Ochoa ran to David Brooker and jumped up to give her lanky caddy a monster hug. It was a very sweet victory.
Anyone watching the LPGA events over the past five years, had to catch the easy camaraderie between Lorena and David as they walked easily along the fairways, conferring, chatting, laughing, Ochoa’s black hair pulled back into a pony tail bouncing under her golf cap. The great respect and admiration between them represented all that was good about the sport. It made us happy.
In 2007 Brooker was voted HSBC Caddie of the Year by his fellow bagmen at the inaugural HSBC Women’s Champions Caddies’ Night. And while caddies are often the unsung heroes of the game, silently doing their job while their players walk the walk, commentators on the Golf Channel made him a celebrity of sorts joking about the Loud Mouth shorts he often wore in bright patterns and colors.
The team was on a roll. Ochoa had won more than $10 million since her rookie year in 2003, along the way amassing a huge fan base, becoming a much loved icon in her native Mexico. All seemed well in Brooker-Ochoa land.
But things took a sudden turn. One day Brooker was carrying Ochoa’s bag, and another day in early June, 2009, he was fired.
So what happened?
He had broken his foot playing a caddie’s soccer game which BTW seemed like a pretty stupid thing to do — kind of like a surgeon shucking clams. But his pal, Greg Johnston agreed to fill in for him while Brooker’s bones healed. Thing is, Greg’s temp job turned into full time.
“I knew she was going to make some changes,” said Brooker, “but I didn’t know I would be one of them.”
People were pretty shocked. Not privy to the seemingly inexplicable reasons she decided to do this, I was saddened. I would miss the upbeat mood they generated even in the most tense situations. Truly they lived up to the credo, “Golf should be 90% relaxation, 10% concentration.”
But Brooker had faced other challenges. He’d started out as a hot football rookie with Leeds United in his native England but ankle injuries had benched him. He followed a circuitous career route that included architectural college before turning to golf.
“I knew I was never good enough to make the pro tour, but I loved being around the game,” said Brooker. “There’s a great adrenalin rush by being so close to the action. You feel like you’re hitting the shots yourself. You’re a team.”
He landed his first caddy job for an Australian pro before signing on to caddy for Grace Park, a rising LPGA tour star from South Korea. That first year (2003) Grace finished third on the money list earning $1.5 million; the next year she won her first major and finished second on the list. Eventually ongoing back issues forced her to drop out.
For a while, Brooker caddied on the men’s PGA tour. Then he says, “Lorena asked me to caddy for her. I was thrilled. I’d been a big admirer of her talent and appreciated her enjoyment of the game — that’s so important. You have to want to do it.
“She’d yet to win a major and she told me, ‘We’ve got to do it’ and we did. She won the Wendy’s Championship in Dublin, Ohio and went on to win four of the following eight tournaments shooting her right up there to #1 on money list.”
This year as the Honda PTT Thailand at the Siam Country Club launched the new LPGA season, Brooker showed up for his new gig, caddying for Suzann Pettersen, a talented Norwegian player who finished 3rd in the Rolex ratings last year.
Already Pettersen is off and running with a second place finish, one shot off the winner Ai Miyazato who shot an amazing 63 on the final day to close out Pettersen’s five shot lead.
Still it was a good pay day for Pettersen who took home $125,840. Ochoa tied for 18th.
Next week the tour heads to Singapore for the HSBC Women’s Championship. We’ll be watching. Brooker at 6′3″ and Pettersen at 5′7″ will be easy to spot, especially if he wears his Loudmouth shorts— he’d be the tall guy in the vivid yellow and green diamonds.
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2 DAYS - HONDA DID NOT PROVIDE TOURNAMENT HANDBOOKS FOR LOWLY REGULAR PATRONS !! ONLY THE VIP's GOT THEM !! WAY TO GO HONDA !! CHEAP CHARLIE HONDA !!
JOE COOL IS CORRECT; GOLF CHANNEL SHOWS VERY, VERY FEW PLAYERS !!
NOTE: IF YOU ARE AN ASIAN PLAYER >
THE LPGA IS DOING GREAT !!
I BELIEVE TV RATINGS ARE WAY DOWN
IN THE STATES !!
MICHELLE WHO ?