Full-Time Caddie Segal Relishes U.S. Amateur Turn
August 14, 2018 | Pebble Beach, Calif.
By Dave Shedloski
Corby Segal wasn’t too disappointed Monday with an opening 3-over-par 74 at Pebble Beach Golf Links in the first round of qualifying in the 118th U.S. Amateur Championship.
How could he be when he uses a set of irons that are older than many of the competitors in the 312-player field. And how could he be upset when his preparation consisted of one quick 18-hole round a week ago and six holes at Pebble Beach early Sunday evening after completing his regular job.
“I actually did about as well as I expected, but it was fun. It was a blast,” Segal said while wearing a huge grin. “I wish I could have played better on 9-10-11. [He bogeyed each of the three holes.] I only hit it about 250-255 so I knew those holes were going to be tough for me. I didn’t give my game the chance that I expected with my short game.
“But I did OK. I just played Pebble Beach in 3 over par having played one round of golf in the last week.”
And carrying a bag for four rounds.
Segal, 47, caddies for Brandon Hagy, a PGA Tour player who is in the midst of trying to come back from a wrist injury. Last week, Hagy competed in the Ellie Mae Classic in Hayward, Calif., the same event where NBA standout Steph Curry of the Golden State Warriors competed. In just his third event of the year, Hagy had a promising finish, tying for fourth place.
After Hagy fired a final-round 6-under 64 at TPC Stonebrae, Segal drove straight to Pebble Beach to register for the championship. Then he joined up with a friend for those few holes of practice.
A reinstated amateur, Segal played professionally starting in 1995 after a career at Cal State Northridge, but like a number of other talented players, he found a job as a caddie a rewarding alternative. He has caddied for Briny Baird, Tom Hoge and now Hagy on the PGA Tour.
“It’s a pretty good gig,” Segal said.
The gig, fortunately, has included caddie chores at Pebble Beach and Spyglass Hill for the PGA Tour’s AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. Last year, Hagy finished tied for 33rd.
“There aren’t any surprises out there for us,” Segal said, referring to himself and his caddie this week, Nick Moore, a standout player in his own right who caddies at nearby Cypress Point Club.
Segal is lucky to have Moore on the bag. He had an offer to caddie for U.S. Junior Amateur champion Michael Thorbjornsen, but Segal already had snagged him so Moore turned down the talented teenager.
Regardless of what happens Tuesday at Spyglass Hill, Segal has had a decent summer. He won the Kelly Cup, and was second in the SCGA Mid-Am and third in the SCGA stroke-play tournament. He currently leads the SCGA Player of the Year race despite limited starts – and those old clubs. His PRGR irons are 23 years old.
“The one thing I tell people is that my game doesn’t change very much,” he explained. “I’m not going to hit it farther. It’s just whether or not I hit the center of the face most of the time.”
Though he has gotten as far as the quarterfinals of the U.S. Mid-Amateur, in 2012, Segal never has advanced to match play in the U.S. Amateur, in which he first competed in 1993.
He has a tall task ahead of him, but he doesn’t mind.
“It’s hard to play at this age against these younger guys, but it’s also a fun challenge,” Segal said. “It’s fun to compete against these kids. And to have a chance to do it here is pretty special, no matter what.”
Dave Shedloski is an Ohio-based freelance writer who frequently writes for USGA digital channels.