DETROIT – Ben Schomin was enjoying dinner with friends Wednesday night in Grand Rapids, Michigan, a 2 ½-hour drive away from where he had worked earlier that day.
He had left Detroit Golf Club that afternoon, where he had serviced the needs of Cobra-Puma athletes ahead of the Rocket Mortgage Classic in his job as director of tour operations. He was looking forward to enjoying a trail run on his mountain bike and perhaps going camping with a friend on Thursday. The Michigan native loves spending time here during the summer and had his wife and kids with him. He had the next three days off – or so he thought.
That is until his phone rang at around 8 p.m. on Wednesday and Bryson DeChambeau made a call to the bullpen, asking him to caddie for him in a pinch. Not long before, DeChambeau’s caddie Tim Tucker quit his job working for the 2020 U.S. Open champion, and so Schomin, good company man that he is, got up at 5 a.m. and drove back to Detroit for DeChambeau’s first-round tee time of his title defense.
“Traffic wasn’t too bad,” he said.
When he arrived, Schomin had to go through COVID-19 testing again, but there he was inside the ropes as caddie for the No. 6-ranked player in the world, carrying the clubs he assembled to DeChambeau’s exacting specifications. His only previous experience looping at a PGA Tour event? He was on the bag for former Golf Channel host Holly Sonders for three rounds at the PGA Tour’s American Express. This was a slightly bigger stage.
Schomin, 43 and owner of a mullet every bit as good as Aussie pro Cameron Smith, said the biggest challenge for him was simply keeping up. On a day when the wind swirled, he and DeChambeau didn’t always agree on the club choice and DeChambeau, who cruised to a three-stroke victory in Motown a year ago, got off to a sluggish start, making bogeys on two of his first three holes. He got back to even par, but strung together nine straight pars on the homeward nine to shoot a rather pedestrian even-par 72 on Thursday, which left him T-110 when play was suspended due to darkness.
DeChambeau still managed to lead the field in Strokes Gained: Off-the-tee (with an average of 325 yards), but his approach game and short game left a lot to be desired.
“I would blame it on me,” said Schomin, who seemed genuinely disappointed he didn’t get to show off his bunker-raking skills.
Schomin will be back on the bag on Friday – he better be because he drove off wearing his tournament-issued caddie bib – and then it’s anyone’s guess who will take the reins when DeChambeau heads across the pond for the British Open at Royal St. George’s. When asked if caddying for DeChambeau would be a one-and-done arrangement or if he might throw his name in the hat to be DeChambeau’s regular sidekick, he smiled and said, “I don’t know. You’re going to have to ask my wife.”