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Now O'Meara fires caddie

This is turning out to be a tough year for caddies.

After his tie for 31st in the Masters, Mark O'Meara fired Jerry Higginbotham, who was on his bag when O'Meara won the Masters, British Open and player of the year in 1998.

"It totally shocked me and I'm in major disbelief," Higginbotham told Golfweek for a story on its web site. "I like Mark very much, and in time, he and I will talk about this. Right now, it's pretty disappointing, but he's the boss."

Earlier this year, Ernie Els parted ways with Ricci Roberts, his caddie for both U.S. Open titles. And last month, Tiger Woods split with Mike (Fluff) Cowan after their 18-month run produced 10 victories, including the Masters.

O'Meara and Higginbotham had been together the past five years.

"It's time to go forward," O'Meara told The Golf Channel. He said he would give Higginbotham a letter of recommendation.

After hearing the news, the first person Higginbotham saw at Augusta was Cowan, who had since been rehired by Jim Furyk.

"Fluff just looked at me, shook his head and said, `Must be something in the water at Isleworth,"' where Woods and O'Meara live.

TRW