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September 22 2012

12:21 AM

Johnson gives ‘new’ caddie a try

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Cameron Hooper (L) was pressed into service Friday when his friend Dustin Johnson needed a caddy.

By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM

ATLANTA -- If he'd known he was going to be pressed into service on Friday, Cameron Hooper would have worn tennis shoes.

Instead, the financial planner, who was playing a little "hooky" on this warm Friday afternoon, was wearing loafers -- with no socks -- as he carried Dustin Johnson's golf bag for the final seven holes of the second round of the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola.

Hooper roomed with Johnson at Coastal Carolina, where both played on the golf team. The Jacksonville, Fla., native now lives in the Atlanta area and came out to East Lake to see his buddy play during the first two rounds of the final event in the FedExCup Playoffs.

Imagine Hooper's surprise, though, when Johnson yelled for him after he hit his tee shot at the 11th hole -- "Hoop, come in here," he remembers the call. Seems Johnson's regular caddie, Bobby Brown, had tweaked his back putting on his socks Friday morning and the pain was getting worse, not better.

"Bobby was struggling and wasn't feeling well, so I told him to go home," Johnson said.

Brown handed over the caddie bib and the clubs and then hitched a ride back to the clubhouse with a rules official. Suddenly, Hooper had his first-ever caddy job.

Interestingly, his counterpart in the group was Wayne Robinson, who normally works on the CBS golf broadcasts but has caddied for Sergio Garcia during the Playoffs after the Spaniard decided to go without a professional carrying his bag.

Hooper admitted his hands shook a little the first few holes -- "I'm not going to lie," he said -- but he soon found it was "pretty calming inside the ropes."

Hooper, who is getting married in three weeks, said he read one putt for his buddy but admitted they left it a little on the outside. Johnson was even par for the day when Hooper was called out of the bullpen, and he got to see those three straight birdies that began at No. 13 up close and personal.

"He did it all on himself," Hooper said. "I just tried to catch the ball when he threw it to me."

Johnson ended up shooting a 67 that moved him into a tie for fifth, three strokes off the lead.

"It worked out well," Johnson said. "It's fine. He played golf with me in college, so he's a good player and a good friend of mine, so it was fine switching them up."

No word on whether Brown will be able to caddie on Saturday but Hooper knows one thing.

"I'll wear tennis shoes tomorrow," he said.

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