Caddie Mike Hicks still making the rounds at the U.S. Open
ARDMORE, Pa. - Mike Hicks said he doesn't whip out his best Payne Stewart stories all the time.
As his longtime caddie, Hicks has got some good ones. But, he said, knowing when to tell them depends on the crowd and the situation.
When it comes to the ones about how Stewart was able to thrive in the toughest tournament in golf, the U.S. Open, there's no better opportunity than this week.
"Whoever I'm caddying for in this tournament now, I try and relay his formula for playing well in this thing," Hicks said. "He had a great record in the U.S. Open. He had lots of opportunities to win this thing."
Hicks, who lives in Mebane, helped Stewart win two U.S. Opens, the second coming in dramatic fashion at Pinehurst No. 2 in 1999.
Stewart's reaction after sinking a par putt on No. 18, which was quickly followed by Hicks jumping into his arms, has become one of the game's most iconic images.
This week, Hicks is working with Josh Teater, who's making his first appearance in the U.S. Open.
"I just remember (Stewart) making that putt and Mike jumping on him," said Teater, who was a sophomore at Morehead State in 1999.
Hicks and Teater began working together in February after Teater parted ways with his caddie and Hicks found himself free after Spencer Levine, who he'd worked with for three seasons, was out for the year with thumb surgery.
Teater, 34, has strung together a solid season since adding Hicks. He tied for second behind Tiger Woods at the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines. He was sixth at the Northern Trust Open and seventh at the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial.
"I knew being paired with Mike, if there was ever a chance, it would be well worth the try," Teater said. "He's been helpful for sure. He's been around a lot of these courses way more times than I have. He's just a calming presence out there."
Teater struggled in his first two rounds at Merion, barely making the cut at 8-over par. But no matter where Teater and Hicks go from here, Hicks' connection to the event will remain strong.
"It is a special week for me, I enjoy the U.S. Open," Hicks said.
Staff writer Stephen Schramm can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 486-3536.