Tiger Woods’ chances of winning the 2013 Players Championship were slim coming into the event. Prior to the tournament, the golfer had never finished better than eighth since his 2001 title. Woods’ chances of thriving at TPC Sawgrass’ The Players Stadium Course in 2013 was dismissed by many.
However, Woods came as a surprise to many. Years after the big win, his then-caddie Joe LaCava revealed that he felt compelled to provide a pep talk to the legendary golfer. LaCava channeled his past experiences with Fred Couples to make sure Woods was at the top of his game. Having caddied Couples to a 1996 title win at the event, LaCava told the ace golfer that “Fred owned this golf course” and rightfully so.
Recalling his conversation with Tiger Woods ahead of the event, LaCava said, as quoted by PGA Tour:
“I basically told him … ‘Listen, Fred owned this golf course and he owned it for one reason. To me, it’s a second-shot golf course.’ Premium on iron shots. You’ve got to hit it to the right spots. A lot of 6-, 7-, 8-irons, that type of thing. And I think Fred back in his day was probably the best iron player I saw during that era.”
Exuding confidence in the player, the caddie added:
“I think Tiger was the best of all time … and I didn’t change his mindset, but I got him thinking a little bit. Which is all you need to do with Tiger.”
Joe LaCava’s ‘Fred Couples’ talk with Tiger Woods was effective
LaCava’s words were effective as Tiger Woods finished with a 13-under total, two strokes clear of Kevin Streelman, David Lingmerth, and Jeff Maggert, to win his second Players Championship title. Following the win, Woods embraced LaCava, almost as if he was thanking his caddie for the pep talk.
LaCava further added:
“I think he gave it some good thought and said, ‘You know what? I think you’re probably right. I should do better there. I don’t think he had a bad attitude going into it; I just think he had a bit of a defeatist attitude. That changed a little bit. He ends up winning in 2013; I think that led to the big hug, and he was just appreciative of the fact that I got his mindset in the right spot for that place.”
“I had nothing to do with the win. That’s all on those guys. But an attitude change helped, I think, that week.”
Interestingly, Tiger Woods also took a friendly jibe at his good friend Couples after securing the 2013 title. Following the win, the ace golfer came out to state that Fred ‘couldn’t make fun of him anymore.’
It is pertinent to note that LaCava reunited with Couples at last week’s Cologuard Classic on the PGA Tour Champions. Celebrating the 10-year anniversary of Woods’ second Players title, the caddie reminisced about his influential talk with the legendary player and how Couples became a part of it.