Though he has no harsh feelings concerning Phil Mickelson, former University of Tennessee at Chattanooga men's golf coach Reed Sanderlin was rooting hard for eventual winner Henrik Stenson to outlast "Phil the Thrill" during Sunday's final round of the British Open.
That's because Stenson's caddie, Gareth Lord, played for Sanderlin's Mocs in the early 1990s.
"He came over from England," Sanderlin said. "Gareth played for me for a couple of years. I didn't think of him as a caddie then; we had too many arguments about his swing. But I couldn't be happier for him. I just saw him about six weeks ago. He has an out-of-town membership at the (Chattanooga Golf and) Country Club, and we try to get together whenever he's in town. "
Bruce Etter, the club pro at CGCC, said the mood was a bit mixed around the private club Sunday as Mickelson, an American, and Stenson, who's from Sweden, staged one of the most epic final rounds in the 145-year history of golf's oldest major. Stenson's final-round 63 topped Mickelson's 65 for a three-stroke win.
"It's obviously a treat to see Stenson win with Gareth's ties to UTC and the country club," Etter said. "But you're also pulling for the American. It was awesome to see Gareth keep Stenson so cool out there, though. We probably don't see him but three or four times a year, but he's a fun, fun guy. He'll keep you in stitches. He's got a story for everything."
The story of Lord and Stenson began in late 2012. Lord — who had previously carried for another Swede on the PGA Tour, Robert Karlsson — texted Stenson to ask if he'd consider him.
The pair worked so well together so quickly that Stenson's total winnings in 2013 on both the PGA and European Tours hit $20 million, not including endorsements. Given that caddies typically receive between 5 and 10 percent of those winnings, Lord likely earned $1.5 million or more in that year alone. According to a (London) Daily Mail article, he celebrated by buying a Ferrari.
Stenson's wager with Lord regarding the former Moc's fondness for cigarettes might be the nicest thing he'll ever do for him, though. A couple of years ago he bet Lord that if the golfer ever won a major, Lord would have to quit smoking.
According to an interview with Lord after Sunday's round concluded, Stenson reminded his caddie of that bet as early as the seventh hole, when he and Mickelson remained tied.
"I knew he felt pretty good because we were going down the seventh and he looks at me and says, 'You better enjoy that (cigarette),'" Lord recalled, who added that he had until midnight Sunday to take his final puff for life.
And Stenson surely wants Lord around for years to come, since the caddie was the only one of his team members he mentioned individually during the claret jug presentation, saying, "I want to thank my wife, my family, my team, including caddie Gareth Lord in particular."
Given that Sanderlin joked about the three rules for a caddie being "No. 1, Show Up; No. 2, Keep Up; No. 3, Shut Up," Stenson's praise of Lord was almost as impressive as the major tournament records the player set or tied with his final round of 63 (tying Johnny Miller at the 1973 U.S. Open), his 264 total (the lowest ever at a major) and his 20-under-par total, which matched Jason Day's mark at last year's PGA Championshp
"They make a great team," Sanderlin said. "They both have a sharp wit. Very quick. Very funny. I've followed them at the Masters a couple of times. They really work well together."
Current UTC golf coach Mark Guhne often plays the seven-letter word game "Words with Friends" against Lord via cellphone.
"When our games go silent," Guhne said, "I know he and Henrik have gone to work."
But Guhne expects to be anything but silent about Lord on the recruiting trail.
"We might not be able to get you on the Tour as a player," he said with a chuckle while pointing out that former Moc Kip Henley also caddies, "but we can get you on a bag and you'll make a lot of money."
He added, "It's nice to have a former Moc win a major. Officially, it's Henrik, but I'm going to give Gareth the credit."
Lord told The Associated Press that all the credit should go to Stenson.
"Henrik's attitude was phenomenal," Lord said. "Everyone calls him 'The Ice Man.' I can tell you sometimes he's not. But he certainly was today. I had the best seat in the house."
Etter expects he'll need lots of seats available whenever Lord next returns to CGCC.
"It'll be a great celebration," he said, "whenever Gareth gets back to town."
Especially if Lord can resist the urge to go outside for a smoke.
Contact Mark Wiedmer at email@example.com.