Canyon Meadows chief pro enjoys pinch week as John Daly’s caddy


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John Daly had only made three putts.

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Matt Freeman, out of the office for the week to carry Daly’s clubs at the Shaw Charity Classic, hustled to the next tee.

When you caddy for arguably golf’s most colorful character, you know to expect the unexpected.

But Freeman, the head professional at Canyon Meadows Golf & Country Club, didn’t expect it.

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“I stand on the 17th tee, got the putter headgear out and John comes in without a putter in his hand,” Freeman said. “I give him a shrug and he says, ‘The bag just got a little lighter.’ I said, ‘Well, what did you do with your putter?!?’ He said, “I was going to break it, so I decided to give it to a fan.”


The stars of the PGA Tour Champions are now on their way to the next stage.

Freeman, meanwhile, will be back in his office on Monday, though he probably won’t be doing much work.

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Because each member will stop with a similar twist on the same question – “So…how was it looping for Long John?” His buddies at the PGA of Alberta will surely be calling too, looking for the scoop.

Over the 10-year history of the Shaw Charity Classic, with each edition so far hosted at Canyon Meadows, Freeman has many stories to tell.

“But it’s the best for me, that’s for sure,” he said.

Daly was originally supposed to have his son on the bag in Calgary, just like he did at the British Open last month in St. Andrews, but ‘Little John’ preferred to stay home and work on his own game as he is preparing for his second year. season with the University of Arkansas Razorbacks golf team.

Freeman, 43, was thrilled to fill in. During a pro-am round and three days of competition, he accompanied one of his childhood favorites. (It was a bonus that Daly was paired twice with Fred Couples, another treat to watch.)

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“You get these experiences — probably once in a lifetime, maybe never again — and when the opportunity arose, I jumped on it,” Freeman said. “It was fantastic, really cool, and it exceeded my expectations. You never know when you get closer to someone you’ve admired for 30 years, but it’s been awesome.

After that impromptu putter gift near the end of Friday’s first round, Daly bought a new Odyssey from the pro-shop, changing the grip and using his foot to bend that stick to his liking.

If he hadn’t been fighting with his flat stick(s) all week, the 56-year-old might have been in contention for the title and the cowboy hat that comes with it. Instead, he settled for a T-23 with a three-round 2-under 208 tab. He finished Sunday with a 3-under 67 spin.

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“You look at the standings, we could have been there with anything,” moaned Freeman.

Nonetheless, the head pro at the host course enjoyed every minute of the experience.

As Daly rode in a cart, often puffing on a cigarette, Freeman rode the 7,086-yard course with that Hooters logo bag slung over his right shoulder.

He relayed distances, raked sand traps and helped read putts. And, like so many who stand outside the ropes, he might have grass stains on his lower jaw after witnessing how Daly, a two-time major champion during his PGA Tour heyday , can still hit a golf ball.

“It’s amazing how he hits and the shots he creates,” Freeman said. “Just the way it comes out of his club, it’s amazing.”

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This big bop on the 468-yard opening hole is a prime example.

“His (Saturday) ride on number 1, I can’t even tell you where he was,” Freeman marveled. “He had 118 yards on the green. He had a gaping baby. I’m like, ‘I’ve never seen a car here in my life.’ ”

Before Daly left in his rental vehicle on Sunday, he signed Freeman’s bib.

A special memory, and maybe a job offer for next summer. (The contract between the Shaw Charity Classic and Canyon Meadows is now up for renewal, a decision to be voted on by members of the private club. The senior snipers have always loved the course, so they hope when they return to Calgary in 2023, they are back in the usual place.)

“Thanks for the great caddy,” Daly wrote to Freeman. “Let’s do it here forever.”

CHIP SHOTS: Medicine Hat’s Kelly Risling drained the 25-foot birdie putt — sealed with a fist pump, of course — to earn a sudden-death playoff at the 2022 Alberta Senior Men’s Championship at Desert Blume in his hometown. Risling completed three rounds in 3 of 219, then beat James Varnam on the first extra hole. He also won the super-senior title… The Calgary Ladies Golf Association senior closed amateur will tee off Tuesday through Wednesday in Hamptons.

Twitter: @WesGilbertson

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