2023 Zurich Classic: Tiger Woods is out but Joe LaCava is subbing this week for Steve Stricker

AVONDALE, La. – While Tiger Woods may be sidelined for an extended period of time after undergoing surgery today, his caddie Joe LaCava has a bag this week at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans, looping for Steve Stricker.

“It’s a little bit longer story than what it needs to be probably,” Stricker said. “I asked his son first.”

LaCava Jr., who has caddied for Charlie Woods at the PNC Championship the last few years in a group with his dad, worked for Stricker earlier this year at the Cologuard Classic on PGA Tour Champions.

“Delightful kid, Joe Jr.,” Stricker said.

Unfortunately, Joe Jr. was already spoken for; he’s working on the Korn Ferry Tour for Brandon Hagy and already had committed to the job for the next couple of weeks.

Steve Stricker reacts during the pro-am prior to the Zurich Classic of New Orleans at TPC Louisiana on April 19, 2023, in Avondale, Louisiana. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)

“I literally said, I can ask Joe, but I don’t think he’s going to want to come. ‘Fifty-five-year-old guy, washed-up Tour player. Do I really want to come all the way from (Connecticut) down to New Orleans?’ So my thinking went away from Joe Sr. right away. I’m like, he’s not going to want to come here,” Stricker recalled. “I asked a bunch of other guys and nobody could make it.”

However, Stricker’s wife, Nikki, who has caddied for him off and on through the years, kept pushing for Joe Sr.

Finally, Stricker caved and LaCava said, “Oh, heck, yeah, I’ll come.”

“Now he’s upset I asked his kid first,” Stricker said. “He’s such a great guy, fun to be with, easy to be with. Obviously is very good at what he does. We’ve been having fun with him so far. But that’s — short story made long, that’s how it ended up being.”

Stricker, the victorious captain of the 2020 U.S. Ryder Cup team and an assistant for this year’s match in Italy later this year, is teaming with Zach Johnson, his successor as U.S. Ryder Cup captain. Team Stricker-Johnson with LaCava Sr., on the bag, tee off on Thursday at 1:31 p.m. ET.