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Mike "Fluff" Cowan makes his 10th Ryder Cup
September 15, 2010

Mike “Fluff” Cowan is going back to the Ryder Cup, a competition that has changed since he caddied in his first one 25 years ago at The Belfry.

The competition is as intense as ever. The biggest difference might be his suitcase.

“We got next to nothing back then—a couple of sweat shirts, I think,” Cowan said. “We certainly get treated better than we did at my first one. Now we get all kinds of clothes. We fly over on the charter. They pay us nicely. Some guys say it isn’t enough, but I think it’s enough. The competition … there’s nothing like it.”

No other American brings as much experience to the matches as Cowan, and few have seen so much through so many players. Jim Furyk, his current boss, will be the fourth player for whom Cowan has caddied at the Ryder Cup.

He was on the bag for Peter Jacobsen in 1985 at The Belfry and for Fred Couples four years later (Couples hired Joe LaCava the following season). Jacobsen returned to the Ryder Cup in 1995, and Cowan worked for Tiger Woods at Valderrama in 1997. This will be his fifth straight Ryder Cup working for Furyk.

The biggest regret is playing on only two winning teams—the comeback at Brookline in 1999, and last time at Valhalla.

His favorite memory was two years ago at Valhalla, when Furyk won the cup-clinching point on the 17th hole, the matching ending with a handshake when Miguel Angel Jimenez conceded Furyk a short par putt.

“It was a matter of circumstances, but having Jim actually be the clincher, that was pretty much a nice memory—a thrill,” he said.

As for the worst?

Cowan went back to the 18th hole at The Belfry in 1989, when Couples was in a pivotal match against Christy O’Connor Jr. All square on the 18th, with Couples having blasted a 300-yard drive, O’Connor hit 2-iron to about 3 1/2 feet for a birdie he never had to putt.

“One of the most phenomenal shots in the history of the game,” Cowan said. “Freddie had a 9-iron and flared it out to the right. I felt awful for him. That was probably my worst memory, although I got to witness one of the greatest shots in the history of the competition.”

That wasn’t the only stunning loss. Cowan was with Woods when the world’s No. 1 player lost to Costantino Rocca in 1997. And he was with Furyk when Paul McGinley made a 6-foot par in 2002 at The Belfry to halve the match and give Europe the outright victory.

As for the most bizarre moment, consider a fourballs match between Jacobsen and Brad Faxon against Seve Ballesteros and David Gilford at Oak Hill in 1995.

Thinking that Faxon was in for par, Jacobsen rapped his long birdie putt about 4 feet beyond the hole and picked it up. Only then did he realize Faxon had taken a penalty drop from behind a willow tree in the fairway.

“That might be my worst memory, now that I think about it,” Cowan said. “I don’t even want to go into it.”

But he’ll go to Celtic Manor looking forward to these matches as much as he did 25 years ago.

“It’s always been an intense competition,” he said. “I guess just like the rest of the world of golf, it’s gotten bigger. But it’s the same intensity. The players treat it the same way.”








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