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Jack Nicklaus' caddie Angelo Argea dies

Angelo Argea, the long-time caddie for Jack Nicklaus, has died of liver cancer at the age of 75.

The former taxi driver died on Monday night at the home of his nephew in Canton, Ohio, according to a family friend.

Argea, a distinctive character on tour because of his mop of silver hair, won around 40 tournaments with Nicklaus after the pair first began working together in 1963.

"Angelo was one of the all-time great characters in the game of golf," Nicklaus, 65, said on his official website. "He had a lot of personality and was a lot of fun to be around.

"I guess you could say Angelo was one of the old-time caddies who had a flair about him. Angelo was known for his white, or should I say grey, afro but he should also be known for being an excellent caddie.

"Angelo always went out early in the morning and got the pins, and knew enough of the golf course and my golf game, that any information I needed, he generally had," added 18-times major winner Nicklaus.

"But I think it's as important -- or more important -- that the player and the caddie have compatible personalities. Angelo and I always had a very good rapport."

Nicklaus, widely regarded as the greatest player in the history of the game, won his last major with Argea on the bag at the 1980 U.S. Open at Baltusrol.

Although they won U.S. Opens, British Opens and U.S. PGA Championships together, Argea missed out on all six of Nicklaus's U.S. Masters victories because Augusta National did not allow players to bring their own caddies until 1983.

Nicklaus has clear memories of the first time he met Argea: "This gentleman walked up to me and said: 'Jack, I've got the caddie who's been assigned to you for the tournament.'

"Of course, I knew they didn't assign caddies for tournaments back then, but I played along and said: 'OK, I'll give him a try.'

"That caddie was Angelo. It was sort of a con job but I let them con me because, as it turned out, I won the golf tournament (the 1963 Palm Springs Golf Classic).

"Angelo lived in Las Vegas and was driving a taxi at the time. I asked him if he wanted to caddie for me in the Tournament of Champions in Las Vegas, and we ended up winning that one too.

"In fact, we won five of the first six tournaments Angelo caddied for me. It was the start of a long partnership and relationship that lasted over 20 years.

"He was such a good guy. In many ways, Angelo was part of our family and (Nicklaus's wife) Barbara and I will miss him greatly."

October 13, 2005

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