Golf: Danny Lee splits with caddy on eve of Masters

By Simon Plumb at Augusta National Golf Club

Danny Lee and caddie Kurt Kowaluk at The Presidents Cup last year. Photo / Getty Images
Danny Lee and caddie Kurt Kowaluk at The Presidents Cup last year. Photo / Getty Images

Danny Lee has split with his caddy and had to find a late ring-in for the Masters.

On the eve of golf's biggest tournament, the in-form Kiwi has cut ties with Kurt Kowaluk - the caddy central to the 2015 season which saw Lee become a top-15 money-winner on the PGA Tour earning in excess of $5.7 million.

Lee's team revealed the news to the New Zealand Herald at Augusta National on Tuesday morning (NZT), saying they had kept quiet over the last three weeks to try and let Lee concentrate on getting his game ready - the first New Zealander to qualify for a shot at the famous Green Jacket since Michael Campbell in 2010.

The full details of the split remain under wraps, with Lee's coach Drew Streckel saying it's a "long story" which boils down to player and caddy "no longer seeing eye-to-eye".

Streckel has gone above and beyond coaching Lee over the two tournament's, looping for him at both the Arnold Palmer Invitational and the World Matchplay Championship.

Streckel told the Herald that Lee had asked him to carry on for another week, but considering the magnitude of this week's major, Streckel insisted they needed to find an experienced caddy with detailed knowledge of Augusta's lightning fast greens.

The good news for Lee is close friend Michael Hartford has stepped into the vacancy, a highly experienced PGA Tour caddy of 15 years who has previously worked for double major champion John Daly. Hartford, or "H" as he's known, is the full-time caddy for one of Lee's closet allies on tour, Pat Perez, who is also coached by Streckel.

Perez's season is already over after surgery on a cartilage tear in his shoulder, meaning if all goes well for Lee and Hartford in their first tournament this week, there is likely the option of continuing all season. But considering the first tournament out of the gate is the Masters, acid test's don't come any bigger.

It's an unfortunate incident for Lee, who has been in excellent form for 18 months - regularly in contention on the world's toughest circuit, a breakthrough PGA Tour win at the Greenbrier Classic in July and earning his way onto last year's international Presidents Cup team.

The caddy split also throws new perspective on Lee's last two events, where he uncharacteristically missed the cut at Bay Hill and managed to halve one of three matches at the World Matchplay Championship.

The first round of the Masters begins Friday morning (NZT).

- NZ Herald

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