The Legend of Jack Miller grew with every step he and Jazz Janewattananond took the last four days.
Part buddy comedy, part underdog story, the caddie from Farmingdale and the golf prodigy from Thailand delighted the crowds at Bethpage Black. And though they didn’t have the finish either wanted on Sunday — Janewattananond, who began the day tied for second, double bogeyed 12 and followed that with five straight bogeys en route to a 7-over-par 77 — this PGA Championship has proved revelatory for both.
Janewattananond, 23, presented himself to the American golf scene and endeared himself to the notoriously boisterous New York crowd. And Miller, 63, who is also a frozen foods manager at King Kullen, got to live a deferred dream, carrying in his first (and likely only) major. It’ll be back to caddying for the public after this.
“It was absolutely fabulous, and I can’t believe it’s coming to an end, but I knew that was going to happen,” Miller said. “[I’ll always remember] walking out there and having all the crowds yelling at me. I live in the town and a lot of people know me here. That was pretty cool. Even there on 18, we came up with bogeying five out of the last six holes and they’re still yelling.”
That was key for Janewattananond, who came to Long Island from Thailand with neither a caddie nor a local fan base. As it turns out, Miller was good for both. As a regular caddie at the course, the Bethpage stalwart brought the cheering section with him from hole to hole, and all that goodwill translated to gleeful shouts of “Jazz” or “Jazzy,” and regular butchering of the golfer’s last name (“Nobody got it right,” Miller said). It certainly helped that Janewattananond was an endearing character in his own right, injecting youthful energy and fun into a tournament that seemed all but decided before Sunday.
“If I didn’t have [the crowd], I might’ve shot 90 or 80,” said Janewattananond. “They held me up.”
Miller said that the relationship between him and Janewattananond developed a little more with every conversation during the six memorable days they spent together. Miller hopes they keep in touch.
“We got better as the week went on,” he said. “The first day is a little awkward. He speaks English, but it’s not the best . . . and he was struggling with my New Yorker accent. But after a couple days, we kept going and we got better and better each day.”
As for Janewattananond, “I’m just thankful” for Miller, he said. “It was good. He has a lot of knowledge of the golf course and the history of the golf course — this happened here, and this happened here. He keeps the conversation going, you know. It helps.”
As they wrapped up their round, Miller put the golf bag down and reluctantly took off his bib. It’s too bad, he said, that he can’t keep it. This is the pinnacle of his caddie career, after all, the only big tournament scheduled at Bethpage until the Ryder Cup in 2024. “But they’re not going to need caddies,” he said.
“It’s back to the public,” Miller said. “But that’s all right. I have a good time with the public. I have a lot of good customers. I’ll be back and they’re going to want to know all the stories.”
But certainly, a week like this will make him something of a celebrity around these parts, right?
“Maybe, maybe,” Miller said. “It’ll wear off after a little while, but it was good while it lasted.”