Commentary | Jessica Korda made right decision at the wrong time when she fired her caddie

jdill@bradenton.comJuly 5, 2013 

Bradenton native Jessica Korda made news last weekend when she fired her caddie in the middle of the third round at the U.S. Women's Open and asked her boyfriend to take over the duties.

Players firing caddies isn't uncommon, but doing so in the middle of the round is something that only happens on the big screen.

Korda's tact might have been off in this case, but the 20-year-old wasn't totally in the wrong for doing what she did to former caddie Jason Gilroyed.

You see, golf is perhaps the most cerebral sport in the world.

And it's an individual sport, meaning players only have their caddies to fall back on when things aren't going right.

The relationship between player and caddie can contribute to the woes or success of a player in each tournament.

Granted, a caddie isn't a manager or head coach. He or she isn't the one hitting the shots.

But a good caddie is part psychologist, part colleague.

When the going gets tough, the caddie is there for comfort to get things back on track. When a player waffles on what

club to hit, the caddie is there to offer positive feedback.

There's a lot of trust needed. Once it's broken, it is often hard to regain. The damage is done, and the arguments reach a boiling point.

That's precisely what happened with Korda and Gilroyed.

She told the Associated Press they had several disagreements on the front nine of the third round.

The byproduct of those arguments took a serious toll on her golf game: a disappointing 5-over-par front nine.

So boyfriend Johnny DelPrete, who played on the Web.com Tour in 2012, stepped in.

The switch worked for the rest of the third round. Korda fired a 1-under-par total on the back nine to get into the clubhouse with a 76.

Those final nine holes last Saturday salvaged what appeared to be a disastrous round as she remained in the top 10 with a share of sixth place.

Sunday's final round was better, but her 73 gave her a 290 total and a tie for seventh place, 10 shots behind champion Inbee Park.

Despite the outcome, the decision to fire Gilroyed was the right one for Korda.

Perhaps it should have waited until either after the round ended or following the tournament.

Then again, with so much on the line -- the Open is a prestigious major championship -- there's no reason to stick with someone on the bag who makes you feel uncomfortable.

And comfort is a pillar to any golfer. Once that goes astray, so does the swing and the score.

And when scores go up, then cuts are missed and money is lost. Before you know it, the player is back at Q-School trying to earn a tour card again.

It's why the relationship between player and caddie needs to be stable and healthy, before things get out of control.

However, when it comes to playing for big bucks and prestige as the national champion, who can blame Korda for what occurred?

But the next time it happens, hopefully the relationship is severed before a flare-up happens on the course and during a round. Hopefully, it happens much earlier so headline news isn't made for anything except top-notch golf.

Jason Dill, Herald sports writer, can be reached at 941-745-7017. Follow him on Twitter at @Jason_Dill.

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