A few weeks ago Lee Janzen asked me to caddie for him and not for Olin Browne, my regular bag, at this week's Greater Hartford Open. Janzen is one of the guys who calls the event the Greater Harmon Open because I've won it with three players: In 1992 I guided Lanny Wadkins to his last Tour title; in '96 I was on D.A. Weibring's bag when he won; and two years ago I was the guy jumping up and down by the 18th green when Olin chipped in to win a playoff with Stewart Cink and Larry Mize.
The secret to my success in Hartford? I never let my boss try to drive the 15th, a tricky 296-yard par-4. Olin is a terrific driver, but even in practice rounds I won't let him touch his Hawk Eye.
Each of my victories was special for a different reason. Lanny started the final round five shots behind Donnie Hammond, but Lanny was cocky, and he discounted many of the guys in front of him because he thought they'd get scared when he got hot. Sure enough, Lanny started knocking down pins on the back nine, and he raced by them all. D.A. was battling Bell's palsy, had played awful that year and wanted to quit golf. On Sunday, he drove into a fairway bunker on the 17th hole, a par-4 with water. He asked how far he should hit his layup shot to take the water out of play. "You're the best bunker player I know, and you're not laying up," I told him. He nailed the approach and won by four shots.
The victory I feel the best about is Olin's. He had just turned 39 and had never won on Tour. Olin almost chipped in to win on the final hole of regulation, and in the playoff his wayward approach to 18 gave him a similar chip, from the valley to the right of the green. I told Olin, "The only thing we can do any better this time is to make it," and that's what he did.
This week at the TPC at River Highlands, I'll be working for Olin and hoping to complete a Hartford grand slam.