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Tuesday, 20 August 2019 12:01

Tew caddies for Japan's Kanaya at U.S. Amateur Championship

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Caddie Greg Tew (left) with Takumi Kanaya during the U.S. Amateur Championship at Pinehurst. Caddie Greg Tew (left) with Takumi Kanaya during the U.S. Amateur Championship at Pinehurst. Contributed photo.

PINEHURST — Greg Tew has spent the last two decades walking the grounds of Pinehurst Resort as a professional caddie. And during last week’s U.S. Amateur Championship, he put his knowledge to use alongside Japan’s Takumi Kanaya.

Tew, who’s 42, started caddying at Pinehurst in the fall of 1999, a job he said he “kind of fell into” with the help of Jimmy Smith. Once the head pro at Richmond Pines, Smith asked Tew to come on board as a caddie when he became the caddie master, and Tew has been helping golfers read the courses ever since. 

Fast forward to earlier this month when nearly 7,200 amateur golfers signed up for the event held at Pinehurst No. 2 and Pinehurst No. 4. Tew was paired with Kanaya, 21, who wanted to work with a local caddie who knew the courses. The duo began on Saturday, Aug. 10, in the first of two days of stroke play, and Kanaya was eliminated on Wednesday, Aug. 14, after making the Round of 32.

“Golf was something I always understood, and a lot of my friends complimented me on my understanding of the game,” Tew commented. “I’ve just always been able to read the greens or visualize breaks. So to walk the grounds every day wearing a bib and carrying a yardage book, it’s a great opportunity.

“It’s a privilege to work there and it was a privilege to caddie for TK,” he added of Kanaya. “There are a lot of perks that come with working at Pinehurst and being a professional caddy.”

During his time at Pinehurst, Tew has caddied for NFL Hall of Famers Emmitt Smith and Marcus Allen, as well as one of golf’s greats, Gary Player, among others.

Following the two days of stroke play, Tanaya, who’s currently ranked No. 3 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking and is the reigning Asia-Pacific Amateur champion, finished tied for 28th place with a +3. Making the cut of 64 players, Kanaya faced off against Matthias Schmid of Germany.

“It was a grind,” Tew said of the U.S. Amateur Championship experience. “There were 7,200 of the world’s best golfer players trying to get into an elite field. When I reflect back, it’s great that TK and I made it to the final 32.

“It was the luck of the draw,” he added of getting paired with the soon-to-be college senior. “He wanted an experienced local caddie because he felt he could benefit more from someone like me who knows the course and its subtleties.”

Against Schmid, Kanaya and Tew entered the final hole of match play round trailing the German by one stroke. But that set up one of the more memorable moments for Tew during the tournament.

“We were one down coming onto No. 18, and it was a match that had been hard fought,” Tew recalled. “I said ‘TK it’s all or nothing, you need to be more aggressive and give me your focus and he said okay.’

“He locked in and sent a drive up center of fairway,” he continued. “We were playing the Payne Stewart pin location, and just 85 yards out. He put the ball to the inside left and made the birdie putt to force the playoff. TK overcame that moment and it gives me chills being a part of that and watching him fist pump.”

Kanaya would go on to defeat Schmond on the first playoff hole, earning a conceited birdie. That advanced the duo to the round of 32 and another match play against  Ricky Castillo of the United States.

In what Tew called “another tough match against a guy who could have won” the entire event, Kanaya was elimated by Castillo. The American won six of the 16 holes play, Kanaya won three holes, and the two tied the remaining seven holes.

Two Americans would contend for the title in the final match, seeing Andy Ogletree (Little Rock, Miss.) defeat John Augenstein (Owensboro, Ken.)

Making it to the final four was another member of Pinehurst’s caddie grew, dubbed the “P-Town Loopers,” Keith Silva. He was paired with William Holcombe V, who ultimately lost to Augenstein in the semifinal round.

Click here to see Kanya’s birdie putt on No. 18 to force the playoff hole against Schmid in the Round of 64.

Kyle Pillar

Sports Editor. IUP communications media and journalism alumni. English teacher, Ninth Grade Academy.

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