UNIVERSITY PLACE, Washington (Reuters) - Masters champion and world number two Jordan Spieth is one of golf’s biggest drawcards, yet for many he will be playing second fiddle to his caddie at this week’s U.S. Open at Chambers Bay.
Former school teacher Michael Greller has been working as Spieth’s bagman since 2012 and, as a former Chambers Bay caddie, he is a popular figure within golf circles in this part of the Pacific Northwest.
The sports section in Monday’s issue of the News Tribune newspaper in nearby Tacoma, Washington, was led by an article on Greller, accompanied by several photographs -- much to the amusement of Spieth.
“He (Greller) is really going to take heat from that from us,” a smiling Spieth, 21, told reporters on a sun-splashed Monday afternoon in the spectacular surrounds of Chambers Bay where the water glistened on Puget Sound.
“We were putting and joking around today and people were screaming out, ‘Greller, Greller’. We’re giving him some smack for it and he’s taking it from his caddie buddies too.”
On a more serious note, Spieth said that Greller was trying to keep a low profile when it came to requests for media interviews during the year’s second major.
“He just tries to stay out of it,” said Spieth, who stunned the golf world in April as he completed a wire-to-wire victory by four shots at the Masters.
“He’s certainly done stuff for media before, but I think this week he’s got so much on his plate ... it’s a major week, so we try to limit everything we do off the course.”
Spieth has previous playing experience at Chambers Bay from the 2010 U.S. Amateur, but he plans to take advantage of Greller’s extensive caddying knowledge of the links-style layout.
“It’s going to help with driving the ball, sight lines and understanding when things get firm he’s going to know where it would run off to a little better, maybe,” said Spieth.
While Spieth has already enjoyed a stellar season with PGA Tour victories at the Valspar Championship and Masters, he is determined not to ease up.
“If I didn’t do anything the rest of the year, I’d be pretty frustrated at the second half,” he said.
“You can’t win a grand slam (of the majors) unless you win the first, so I‘m the only one with that opportunity this year. I‘m going to go ahead and focus on this week and see if I can put myself in contention.”
Editing by Frank Pingue