Today's caddie must tote a mixed bag

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Adam Scott of Australia, right, talks with caddie

Adam Scott of Australia, right, talks with caddie Steve Williams, left, on the 17th hole during the third round of the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational. (Aug. 6, 2011) Photo Credit: Getty Images

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Mark Herrmann Newsday columnist Mark Herrmann

Herrmann has covered the Mets and Yankees since 1988, and has been Newsday’s national golf writer since

Being a professional golf caddie sure has changed since the days when the job was captured in the phrase, "Show up, keep up and shut up." These days, a caddie can be a counselor, valet, strategist, or, now, even the headliner.

"Well, it's a mix of everything," said Martin Kaymer, the defending champion at the PGA Championship beginning Thursday at Atlanta Athletic Club.

Now, "everything" includes toting the bag, raking the bunkers, tending the flagstick -- and handling the demands of celebrity. Caddying might never be the same after Sunday, when caddie Steve Williams received more attention from fans and the media than did Adam Scott, who shot 17 under par and won the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.

The job's profile will be at an all-time high this week, what with Williams carrying for Scott again and Tiger Woods, who fired Williams last month after a 12-year partnership, still working with interim replacement Bryon Bell.

"A lot of friends of mine would love to caddie for Tiger. If he needs someone, I think I can find him someone," Kaymer said. Only very experienced candidates need apply, Woods said last week. Whoever takes Woods' bag full time -- and there have been plenty of applicants -- will become much more famous in a hurry.

The question is, is the role worth all the fuss? Are caddies overrated? As Woods said during his news conference at the Bridgestone a week ago, "As a player, you make the last call. Whether it's right or wrong, we have to live with it. Obviously, the caddie is there when we want information, but ultimately, we have to make the last call."

Hunter Mahan, in fact, said his goal is to be less dependent on his caddie. "I feel like right now I want to take more control over my game. I feel like sometimes I rely too much on the caddie, which is easy to do. He knows you so well, it's easy to say, 'What do you think?' and then you just go do it," Mahan said. "I feel like sometimes I get detached from playing golf a little bit, I'm so into what he's saying."

Then again, Scott, a friendly, laid-back type, said that Williams has helped sharpen his edge. "It's almost like I need to show him I've got it in me," the Bridgestone champion said.

So Scott heads the list of pros who don't mind if their caddies shine. Former Masters champion Zach Johnson is right behind him. Johnson issued Twitter feeds two weeks ago to boost his caddie, Damon Green, who was playing in the U.S. Senior Open and contending.

Green, an accomplished mini-tour player, was in the top five on the final day before finishing tied for 13th place. He was back on Johnson's bag at the Bridgestone. "This is my job and [playing] is the thing I do on the side, whenever that's available," he said, adding that he had his own caddie at the Senior Open, but couldn't resist raking the bunkers himself.

He was proud to have done so well with so little practice. "Stevie Williams said it was the greatest golf accomplishment of the year," Green said. "That was pretty good, coming from him."

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