Sergio Garcia is not playing this week in the Wells Fargo Championship at Eagle Point GC in Wilmington, NC. Garcia, like 99% of the players has never played the course, and has never seen it. Yet he has a special connection with the club that made golf headlines in 2012.
The story is one involving Garcia, and a special caddie from Eagle Point GC. It had all the ingredients to be as Bill Murray said in Caddy Shack, a “Cinderella Story.”
In 2012 Garcia entered the Wyndham Championship in Greensboro in a last ditch effort to make the European Ryder Cup team. Other players who normally would skip the Wyndham did the same, but in hopes of making the Fed Ex Cup playoffs in the last regular event of the season.
Garcia came to Greensboro with a bad attitude after missing the cut at the PGA Championship two weeks earlier. Garcia later said he wanted to stop relying on caddies so much and make decisions for himself while trying to get his first PGA Tour win in four years.
Sergio Garcia fired his caddie after the PGA. When he arrived at the Wyndham he still had no caddie. On Wednesday, one day before the first round Garcia approached Bobby Long, Chairman of the Wyndham Championship and asked if he could help him find a caddie.
Long, who is also President of Eagle Point GC and a member of Augusta National, told Garcia his regular caddie at Eagle Point would be a good choice for Garcia. Long had brought nine caddies from Eagle Point to work in two pro-am events at the Wyndham.
As Long’s pro-am team walked off the last green Wednesday afternoon, Long asked his regular caddie David Faircloth, if he would caddie over the weekend. “You mean at Eagle Point?” Faircloth replied.
“No, no, Long said. “Right here.”
“Who for” asked Faircloth.
“Some Spanish guy,” Long said. “Sergio?” said Faircloth.
Long said yes, and Faircloth agreed to caddie for the future Masters Champion.
Faircloth spends summers as a caddie for members of Wilmington’s Eagle Point Golf Club, on most days working 36 holes. A good golfer in his own right with a handicap below two.
He met Garcia just an hour before the first round. “I got on the bag and just tried to stay out of his way,” Faircloth said. “He did his thing. I think he knew I was good enough so he didn’t have to worry about me, so I think he was just able to relax and play golf.”
Garcia led both after the third round and when the fourth round was held up overnight thanks to a persistent downpour. Faircloth spent Monday morning carrying Sergio Garcia’s bag from the fifth tee, where a storm ended his round Sunday, to a victory on 18 for Garcia’s eight win on the PGA Tour.
“Man, never in my wildest dreams,” Faircloth said outside the scoring trailer. “To come out here just to have a good time and caddie in a pro-am, and then here you are with one of the best players in the world. He gets all the credit, you know. I was just a body, and the man’s just an unbelievable player and a ball striker.”
Garcia said about Faircloth, “He did good. I read all my putts, got yardage, so he didn’t have to club me. I am happy for him.”
When asked if Faircloth would receive the traditional 10% of Garcia’s $936,000 he replied, “Probably get $75 and a tip,” Garcia joked. “I don’t know. . . . He’s going to be happy with what he gets. Obviously, he’s not going to get what a normal caddie would get because his job was fairly easy. The toughest thing for him was probably for his legs. He’ll be happy with whatever he gets, and the experience, obviously, it’s always good.”
Faircloth said he would go to New York for the next tournament in a heartbeat, but Garcia said that wouldn’t happen. The next week at the Barclays, it was a CBS spotter who carried Garcia’s staff bag around Bethpage Black.
Faircloth said Garcia was very generous with what he paid him for the week, but would not disclose the amount.
In 2013 on the anniversary of Garcia’s win I called Eagle Point to see if life had changed for Faircloth since that memorable week in Greensboro. As I expected, he was out on the course, carrying his second bag of the day. An assistant pro said, “David hasn’t changed a bit. He was getting married and the money came in handy, but he is still humble and a hard worker, a good caddie. He hasn’t changed.”
So even though Garcia has never played or seen Eagle Point, he will always have that special connection with the club. Enough so that maybe he will play there in 2021 when the Wells Fargo returns, while it’s regular home, Quail Hollow in Charlotte hosts the Presidents Cup.
After Garcia’s win, Faircloth was as much of the story for the media that week as Garcia.
“I never thought in a million years I would be on a bag that wins a PGA tournament,” he said.
Everyone loves a happy ending. It certainly was a “Cinderella story” after all.