The U.S. Open favorite label might be up for debate - Rory McIlroy leads the pack at 11-to-2, according to Bovada - but when logic intervenes, is it really a discussion?
* Hot-playing American Jordan Spieth just won the Masters nine days ago, completing a stretch of golf in which he also won the Valspar in a playoff, and finished second twice.
Spieth is also one of a handful of golfers to have played Chambers Bay, the 2015 U.S. Open site, under stressful conditions. Spieth missed the cut there at the 2010 U.S. Amateur.
* Spieth’s caddie is Michael Greller, a Gig Harbor resident who caddied at Chambers Bay when the course in University Place opened in 2007. He estimates he’s had 50 loops around the links-style course. Greller also caddied in the 2010 U.S. Amateur for rising American Justin Thomas, who lost in the round of 32 to Scott Strohmeyer.
It would be a long shot if any golfer who qualifies, or caddie who helps out, will know the naunces of Chambers Bay better than Greller.
Throw in Spieth’s limited exposure to Chambers Bay - he also played it two summers ago at Greller’s wedding - would anyone really want to bet against this partnership come June?
Yet, the topic of “home turf advantage” was broached with Greller, who returned to Chambers Bay for the first time in months Monday during his off week (although he has a few media interviews and promotions scheduled this week after Spieth’s Masters triumph).
What does Greller feel will be the duo’s biggest advantage that week?
“Honestly,” Greller said, “sleeping in my own bed and home cooked meals are a bigger advantage than the knowledge of the course.”
Maybe there is a tad bit of gamesmanship going on, but Greller has quickly learned a lot about what the best caddies in the world do - how they study a course and communicate it to their golfers.
“I work with the best caddies in the world,” Greller said. “They will come up with a game plan, and put the work in. They will have a map of success to navigate Chambers Bay.”
Caddies not only talk, they share information with one another. Greller said if somebody approaches him with a question about a certain hole, he would oblige and help.
It is a reciprocating gesture. In April of 2014, when Spieth and Greller had no ideas about how Augusta National Golf Club played, they sought out advice from veterans, quickly learning some of the important aspects about the course.
Thirteen months later, Spieth and Greller won the Masters.
“There will be a comfort level (at Chambers Bay),” Greller said. “The flip side is, there will be expectations of me - and us, and it can work against us.”