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Patrick Cantlay hires Tiger Woods’ longtime caddie Joe LaCava while Woods recovers from surgery

With Tiger Woods out indefinitely, Joe LaCava is joining Patrick Cantlay starting this week at the Wells Fargo Championship

Patrick Cantlay has found his new caddie, but he made sure to get permission to make the move ahead of the Wells Fargo Championship this week.

Joe LaCava, who has caddied for Tiger Woods for more than a decade, is moving over to Cantlay’s bag. With Woods sidelined recovering from his latest surgery, the move only made sense.

"Joe wants to work, and so I think Tiger got that,” Woods’ longtime agent Mark Steinberg told ESPN on Tuesday. “We're just moving on."

LaCava made it clear that the move isn't a sign that Woods is retiring. But it does show that Woods isn't close to returning to the course.

LaCava will replace Matt Minister, who has worked with Cantlay since 2017. Cantlay and Minister split last month after the Zurich Classic, where Cantlay and Xander Schauffele finished T4. LaCava has worked with Cantlay in the past, and will now do so for the foreseeable future.

“I wasn't actively looking,” LaCava said after Cantlay’s practice round Tuesday, via the PGA Tour. “I missed it and I wanted to work more. He knows me well enough, and I know him well enough, that we know it's hopefully-slash-probably going to work."

LaCava first joined Woods in 2011 after Woods split with Steve Williams. He was with Woods when he won the Masters in 2019, and most recently caddied for Woods both at the Genesis Invitational in February and the Masters last month — where Woods withdrew on Sunday morning due to a foot injury.

Woods, however, underwent ankle surgery in April and is now out indefinitely. His playing schedule was already extremely limited due to his car crash in Southern California in 2021. It’s unlikely that Woods will be able to compete at any of the remaining major championships this year while he recovers.

So that left LaCava — who spent 20 years alongside Fred Couples and worked a short stint with Dustin Johnson before joining Woods — without a job. But before he agreed to join Cantlay, LaCava made sure to call Woods and get his blessing.

"Joe called Tiger to ask him and get his approval," Steinberg said, via ESPN. "Of course, Tiger gave it. Tiger and Joe are like brothers, tremendous friends. You shouldn't read anything more in to that other than Joe wants to caddie. He loves it. It's his passion. He's great at it and one of the best."

With Tiger Woods out indefinitely, Joe LaCava is joining Patrick Cantlay starting this week at the Wells Fargo Championship
With Tiger Woods out indefinitely, Joe LaCava is joining Patrick Cantlay starting this week at the Wells Fargo Championship. (Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

Cantlay, who has climbed to No. 4 in the Official World Golf Rankings, is searching for his ninth career PGA Tour win this week at Quail Hollow Club in North Carolina. He’s finished no worse than T19 in his last seven starts, took third at the RBC Heritage and finished T14 at the Masters.

“The thing about Joe is he’s as loyal as loyal gets,” Justin Thomas said of LaCava on Tuesday. “The amount of time that he’s spent at home when guys would, I mean, there’s so many guys out here that would have him caddie in an instant. When he was loyal to Tiger and Tiger’s probably telling him to go caddie, go do whatever, and Joe, that’s just not the kind of guy Joe is … Obviously I don't know the details and don't know how long it is or what's going on, but I know that that's something that would never ever, ever be done if Tiger would not OK that.”