Tuesday notebook: Mood light as players begin

This group of five natty Nova Scotians enjoyed the first round in Bermuda.

Tuesday notebook: Mood light as players begin

By Josh Ball, PGA.com Contributor

SOUTHAMPTON, Bermuda -- There was plenty of joking between the players during Tuesday’s opening round of the PGA Grand Slam of Golf.

Even the caddies got involved, as this exchange between Bubba Watson and Paul Tesori, Webb Simpson's caddie, as they walked from the second green toward the third tee, showed.

Tesori: "Hey Bubba, why didn't you go for the green on one, it's a fun tournament."

Bubba: "I did, I tried."

Tesori: "No you didn't. You're not making the green with a 4-wood."

Bubba: "I did, I tried. Teddy [Bubba's caddie Ted Scott] mis-clubbed me."

REMEMBERING A COLLEAGUE: The close-knit brotherhood of professional caddies suffered a great loss last Friday when longtime and popular caddie Scott Steele died after suffering a heart attack while at the Champions Tour’s Greater Hickory Classic in Hickory, N.C. He was 55.

Steele, who spent much of career working for PGA Tour member Tim Herron, was best remembered for being on Larry Mize’s bag when the Augusta, Ga., native won the 1987 Masters by defeating Greg Norman with an epic chip-in birdie on the 11th hole.

"For me, he was the best example of what an enjoyable, positive person should be," said Steven "Pepsi" Hale, who is Keegan Bradley’s caddie. "He was such a beacon for me. He always treated people with respect and was always positive. He always had such a good vibe."

To honor Steele’s memory this week, the caddies are wearing black ribbons on their hats, which also have "SS" embroidered on the front.

"It was such a shock (to learn of Steele’s passing)," said Hale, who had known Steele for 20-plus years. "I tell you what, there was not a nicer guy out there. And I bet he had the only truck in the world that had over 600,000 miles on it. He drove that Toyota truck everywhere.

"And his favorite saying, I’ll never forget, was, ‘Never drive into the sun and always buy your beer on Saturday in the South.’ I’m really going to miss him."

FROM NOVA SCOTIA, WITH PRIDE: Even though the man came to see play in the 2012 PGA Grand Slam of Golf was forced to withdraw due to an ankle injury, that didn’t stop friends Don Murray, Terry Gracie, Gary McIntyre, Michael Noel and Terry Noel from making the trip to Bermuda all the way from Nova Scotia, Canada.

And rest assured there was no mistaking where the quintet hailed from, thanks to the matching white golf shirts that featured a big Canadian flag and “NOVA SCOTIA” across the front and matching NOVA SCOTIA hats.

"We came to see Ernie (Els)," said Michael Noel. "But that’s OK. I mean, we’re in Bermuda."

SCARY: The 16th hole at Port Royal is the club's signature hole, a 235-yard par 3 over the ocean into a narrow green with trouble left and right. Needless to say, it inspires awe and fear in equal measure, and when pressed, Padraig Harrington was hard pushed to find its equal.

"There's plenty [of par 3s] that strike fear in me," he said. "I could give you a long list. I could start with the 17th at Sawgrass. 

"[But] I don't know if there's many that are as long. It's a small garden down there. Like a lot of times when you get a long par 3, the green would be three times as wide. 

"I did a show for the Golf Channel yesterday hitting wedges in there and I thought it was a tight hotel hit from 107 yards," he explained. "In terms of a raw hole, the 16th hole here is as tough a golf hole as you could ever see, and especially as conditions were as benign today, so the ball is traveling, the green is soft -- that's as tough a golf hole. 

"It's not great when you're walking up a par 3 and you start looking to see where the drop zone is."