Angelo Argea, the bush-mopped man on Jack Nicklaus's bag from 1963 to 1981, was a Las Vegas taxi driver who got lucky. Nicklaus admits the caddie master at the Palm Springs Classic (now the Bob Hope) in 1963 conned him into using Argea (below). Nicklaus happened to win that week and five of the next six, and Argea became his rabbit's foot. Nicklaus rarely asks his caddies for advice, and Argea, a partier who was known to show up late, didn't offer much. He was on the bag for only three of Nicklaus's 18 career majors—one U.S. Open and two PGA Championships—since Nicklaus didn't take him to British Opens or the Masters and often used local caddies at the U.S. Open. Nicklaus fired him in 1981, saying, "Angelo has lost his enthusiasm."
Pete Bender is the rail-thin, hawkeyed golf freak who carried no less a mess than Ian Baker-Finch to the 1991 British Open title. Baker-Finch, bless his heart, is lucky to break 80 now. Yet at Birkdale, Bender made him believe he was Ben Hogan, praising each shot loudly, making him laugh, turning tension into pudding. Bender also carried Greg Norman to his 1986 British Open win at Turnberry. When, on the 5th hole on Sunday, Norman admitted to Bender how nervous he was, Bender grabbed his belt loop and smiled. "Here's what we're going to do," he said. "The rest of the day, you walk next to me." Bender had Norman talking about his kids, his boats, everything but the tournament, which he won going away.
Bender has won more than 20 times on Tour, but it should've been more. Bender begged Chip Beck to go for it at the 1993 Masters on the 15th hole when he had 236 yards to reach in two. Beck chose to lay up, saying famously to Bender, "I don't want to mess up my round." Beck lost to Bernhard Langer that day. Beck and Bender split two weeks later. "If I could play as well as he caddies, I'd win every week," says Rocco Mediate, Bender's current boss. Mediate is suddenly playing the best golf of his life. "I'd trust my wife and kids' lives to Pete," says Mediate. "He has this way of making the most tense moment of your life seem like you're on the range. If he ever leaves me, I'm breaking his legs."