Caddies discover their jobs next best thing to playing Major tournament draws all kinds eager to work; Open journal; U.S. OPEN

THE BALTIMORE SUN

BETHESDA -- Sam Montgomery is anything but your typical caddie.

Your typical caddie is not retired, doesn't caddie as much as he plays, isn't a man unconcerned about making a living lugging a golf bag.

"To keep in shape, I play three days a week and caddie three," Montgomery said. "The seventh is a rest day, although once in a while I create the world."

He smiles, pleased with his line. Montgomery is 64, retired from the electronics industry, a resident of Severna Park and a member of Chartwell Country Club who is a regular caddie at Congressional CC.

In the U.S. Open that wound up yesterday, Montgomery carried for Slade Adams, a May graduate of the University of Kansas who was playing in his first PGA Tour event. Adams finished 84th and last with a 26-over 306, worth $5,000, but making the cut was a triumph in itself.

"I was in the big show, the U.S. Open," Montgomery said when asked to describe the difference between carrying for a Congressional member and a touring pro.

"The money I don't worry about. I guess it's a daily fee plus a percentage. I didn't tell the kid, but I'd have done it free."

Montgomery was talking near a small table outside the bag room where spectators and officials approached in an unending stream, most offering money for a man nicknamed Squeeky.

Never mind that everybody misspells Jeff "Squeeky" Medlen's nickname, acquired because he has a squeaky voice. A longtime caddie for Nick Price, Squeeky is back in Columbus, Ohio, battling leukemia.

On the small table are pins and ribbons, given to anyone who donates money for Squeeky. His replacement as Price's caddie is Jimmy Johnson, the golfer's friend for 17 years, dating to when they were paired on the South African Tour.

"When Squeeky got sick," Johnson said, "Nick asked me to help him, so here I am."

Unlike Montgomery, Dave Johnson caddies for his daily bowl of rice. In his fifth year on the tour, Johnson, 34, of Merced, Calif., is still looking for a player to call his own.

After a few weeks off to visit his girlfriend in Atlanta, Johnson showed up at Congressional's gate Monday, flashed his caddie ID card and hooked up with Edward Fryatt, whom he had met two years ago on the Nike Tour.

"You have to know players to get a job," Johnson said. "I was fortunate I met Fryatt. You've got to be visible so players see you. If they notice you're always working, they figure you must be a good caddie."

At the age of 10, Johnson was introduced to golf by his grandfather and uncle. He enjoyed it then and enjoys it still, an 8-handicap golfer who squeezes in several rounds a month.

Working as a caddie is the next best thing to playing. He has tried college, bar tending, sales, customer service with a golf company and working for his father in a label-making business, but nothing matches being on the course.

"This is my third U.S. Open, but it's still like I have rookie status," Johnson said. "Latching on to somebody permanently is my ultimate goal."

It won't be Fryatt, who won $24,173.50 with a 7-over 287. The U.S. Open was his first PGA Tour event, and he will return now to the Asian Tour.

Johnson, caddie ID in hand, will head for the Buick Classic in Westchester, N.Y.

Pub Date: 6/16/97

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