Caddie drama at The Players: Firings and fill-ins as loopers take on No. 17

Sergio Garcia of Spain speaks to the media prior to the THE PLAYERS Championship on May 10, 2017. (Getty Images)

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. — The drama of The Players Championship is focused on the competitors on Thursday through Sunday, but the caddies carrying the bags for the best golfers in the world got some time in the spotlight on Wednesday.

In what has become a tradition at the Stadium Course, caddies hit tee shots to the famous island-green par-3 17th hole for a closest-to-the-pin competition. In the process players and caddies alike make donations to the Bruce Edwards Foundation, which the PGA Tour matches at the end of the day.

Some hit great shots. Some, like Henrik Stenson’s caddie Gareth Lord, did not.

Yes, Lord chucked the club in the water, but it wasn’t one Stenson was planning to use during the championship.

Meanwhile, James Hahn’s looper, Mark Urbanek, didn’t hit a tee shot — he threw it instead. Urbanek hit the green from approximately 105 yards out by throwing a golf ball onto the green.

Now that’s impressive.

In the end, Tommy Fleetwood’s caddie, Ian Finnis, won the contest with a shot to 6 feet, 11 inches.

Meanwhile, several players have new men on the bag this week for oddball reasons.

Danny Willett has a new caddie as a one-off this week after Jonathan Smart, who was on the bag for last year’s Masters win, suddenly quit after the first round of the RBC Heritage in April. Willett has Sam Haywood, who was the best man in his wedding, on the bag this week at TPC Sawgrass. However, he normally caddies for David Lipsky on the European Tour and will continue doing that after this week.

PGA Tour rookie Grayson Murray has been somewhat controversial on his now-deleted Twitter account, ruffling fans and players alike before finally choosing to leave the social media service. He has a new caddie this week after reports that he and his former looper had an in-round altercation at the Wells Fargo Championship. Murray disputed the report before ending his time on the 140-character platform.

Masters champion Sergio Garcia also has a temporary bagman this week, as his regular caddie, Glen Murray, is at home as his wife gave birth to the couple’s second child. On his bag, according to Golf Channel, is two-time European Tour winner and fellow Spaniard Jose Manuel Lara.


Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.