Cary Cozby’s phone hasn’t stopped blowing up.
That’s no surprise after the director of golf at Southern Hills Country Club in Tulsa, Oklahoma, spent Thursday caddying for Tiger Woods during his practice round for the PGA Championship.
Cozby noted he dropped a towel on the first hole and forgot to rake a bunker at the third while talking to Tiger’s right-hand man, Rob McNamara, who joined Tiger for the round and had Cozby’s 13-year-old son Banks on his bag .
“I thought I was going to get fired on four tee,” he said.
Speaking on “A New Breed of Golf” with Michael Breed on SiriusXM PGA Tour Radio, Cozby recounted receiving a call from the PGA of America informing him of Tiger’s impending visit and being told “you can’t tell anybody.” He described Tiger’s visit as akin to the Beatles showing up at his club.
“It’s amazing what he has to deal with on a daily basis,” Cozby said. “He came through the gate. He didn’t even come to the clubhouse because he knew what he’d had to deal with and went straight to the range. They sent a text said, ‘Hey, we’re on the practice tee. I’ll meet you on the first tee.’ And of course our clubhouse is open so we probably had 20 people, the patio, the golf shop’s right off the first tee. So there were probably 20 members that slipped out there to watch him. He didn’t look up, hit his shot. Second hole, there’s a helicopter. Fourth hole, there’s 50 to 70 people up on the hill overlooking that hole. And by the time we get to six there’s 30 to 40 people in the trees across the street with television cameras and phones and pictures, and [saying] ‘We love you, Tiger.’ Go get ’em, Tiger. Great shot, Tiger.’ Just amazing.”
Cozby, the 2016 PGA Professional of the Year and son of Jerry, a club pro in his own right and former Golfweek Father of the Year, has been the director of golf at Southern Hills since 2015. He competed in the 2021 Senior PGA Championship and knows a thing or two about the golf swing. He had this review of Tiger’s swing from his up-close look.
“Every piece of it is very, it’s simple,” Cozby said. “He never once swung anything out of perfect rhythm. So he never went out of shot. Some things I just noticed, like his grip is perfect. It’s just perfect. And he never missed one shot anywhere close to an inch left to where he was looking. If he missed it, just hung a little to the right. I went through every shot, as you might guess, last night just thinking about it. And it was, if he missed it, he just hung it a little right. Or he just misgauged the wind. It was windy yesterday. And I think he hit one shot that, it was heavy and Rob goes, ‘The wind got that.’ He goes, ‘No, I hit a [inaudible] shot with my six iron instead.’ So that was about the only shot that wasn’t just on the button. And watching him pitch around the greens, I can tell you this, I was pretty nervous holding that putter.”
When Breed asked about Tiger’s stamina and ability to handle the walk at Southern Hills, Cozby said, “Obviously his gait’s permanently, I’m guessing, different. And he walks gingerly or just kind of like he is favoring it, but, and he was maybe looked like he, late in the round [was] hurting, but he didn’t say a word. Of course, he didn’t complain about any of that. My guess is he got back from Augusta and he assessed it and knew what he was dealing with and went back to work just based on what you know about him for the past 25 years. And I think he’s, I mean, he’ll be fine and he hits it so good. And does everything, he chips it and puts it incredible. Just fun to watch. He forgot his sand wedge so just had his 60. Left it in the backyard he said.”
When they reached 18, Cozby estimated more than 100 members watched on the hillside.
“It looked like the Beatles were here when we walked off 18,” Cozby said.
Tiger signed a ball and glove for Banks, but scooted before Cozby could ask for a photo. McNamara said they’ll take one together in May when Tiger returns for the championship – is that confirmation he’s playing? – but Cozby won’t be lacking for a keepsake from his experience.
“I’ve had 300 people text me a photo,” he said.