Woods' caddie strictly a temp

AKRON, Ohio — The job isn't exactly one that takes applications. Not that a few dreamers haven't tried.

"There's been a few," Tiger Woods said. "We've gotten a lot of interesting ones."


But one just doesn't ask to caddie for Tiger Woods. When the time is right, Woods will pick up the phone and ask someone to caddie for him.

Only time will determine whether the new guy can generate the kind of chemistry Woods had with Steve Williams.


Maybe he doesn't need to. No question, though, they'll face an adjustment period.

That shouldn't be a problem this week, even though Woods' return from injury at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational also happens to be the first event in 51/2 years at which someone other than Williams has toted his bag. Williams missed the 2005 Presidents Cup for the birth of his first child.

Bryon Bell, in fact, might know Woods better than anyone outside his family. They have been friends since seventh grade — through high school, college and into business as head of Woods' course-design firm.

That includes a few caddie gigs too. Bell was on the bag for Woods' third and final U.S. Amateur victory in 1996, plus a victory at Torrey Pines in 2000.

But there's no question he's only a temp.

"Have you seen his legs?" Woods quipped. Indeed, Bell's pale calves would seem to indicate he doesn't get much time on the course these days.

As it stands, the plan calls for Bell to caddie this week and at next week's PGA Championship. Two solid outings should get Woods into the FedEx Cup postseason, offering a week to find a long-term solution if desired.

"We'll see going forward," Woods said.


However, that also could be an odd time to take on a new caddie. The FedEx Cup's diminishing fields — going from 125 entrants to 100 the next week, then 70 and 30 — could put pressure on Woods and a new hire to mesh quickly.

Sometimes it works. In May, Darren Clarke arrived at the European Tour's stop in Mallorca needing a temp when two other options fell through. He wound up with John Mulrooney, who helped Clarke end a three-year winless streak.

Clarke kept Mulrooney, though they came to loggerheads at the Scottish Open when Clarke started on a self-critical spiral. They cleared the air upon arriving at the British Open — and Clarke captured the claret jug.

"He didn't quite know what to do whenever I was having a little bit of wobbly (in Scotland)," Clarke said.

"He knows a little bit better now — obviously, a lot better now — as to what to say to me and how to deal with me."

Woods certainly could use a good story like that. First, though, it wouldn't hurt to show the world he really has recovered from the sprained left knee and Achilles' tendon that put him on the shelf the last 12 weeks.


"It would be an unbelievable effort if he was to come back and compete," U.S. Open champion Rory McIlroy said. "I'd think just get through 72 holes and maybe finish in the top 20 would be a really good effort."

Said Woods: "It doesn't really matter what (others) think. I'm here to try and win the tournament."

Pull that off, then just watch the applications roll in.