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Harry Higgs explains difficulty of playing through collapsed caddie’s group


A caddie collapsed and had to be administered CPR during Friday’s second round of the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. The incident occurred in the 11th fairway at Pebble Beach Golf Links, where the caddie, who was looping for amateur player Geoff Couch but whose name has not been released, was then put on a stretcher and transported by ambulance to a nearby hospital.

Couch’s foursome also included country singer Lukas Nelson along with PGA Tour pros Beau Hossler and Max McGreevy, who were allowed by the PGA Tour to stop play, head to the locker room and return about two hours later to resume playing.

Neither Hossler nor McGreevy were available for comment afterward, but Harry Higgs, who was playing in the group behind, talked to reporters after Friday’s round.

Higgs said he was standing on the 11th tee box about 200-250 yards away and watched as paramedics “were hammering away CPR on the gentleman.”

“It was weird,” Higgs said. “We teed off on 11, and once I got up there and saw the group that the caddie was in, they were off to the side and they were obviously very emotional, hugging each other. I called a rules official over and just wanted to [ask] like, ‘Is this OK? I don’t want to be rude and keep going. It’s like golf doesn’t matter at all now, right?’”

Higgs noted that the official “voiced to us that things have improved. The gentleman is most likely going to recover.”

“So that obviously takes a weight off your shoulders,” Higgs added.

Higgs was also asked by media on site if he saw some similarities between what happened at No. 11 and the Bills-Bengals game a few weeks ago where Buffalo safety Damar Hamlin suffered cardiac arrest on the field after making a tackle and moments later collapsing. The game was suspended and eventually canceled; Hamlin has since been released from the hospital and is reportedly recovering well.

“It had some shades of that,” Higgs said, before later adding, “None of us have ever had to deal with that. No one in the NFL had ever had to deal with what happened … so there is no playbook. There is nothing to do. In a way, I was worried that we were still going, but then at the same time it’s like, all right, well, soldier on, keep going. I hope he’s OK.”

Full-field scores from the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am

Unfortunately, Higgs is slightly mistaken; this isn’t the first serious medical incident during a PGA Tour event, and it’s not the first for this particular tournament, either. During the final round in 2015, Tour pro Matt Bettencourt’s caddie slipped on the rocks left of Pebble’s 18th fairway and suffered a concussion, broken shoulder and compound fracture in his left forearm. He was also put on a stretcher and hospitalized while Bettencourt finished the hole and nine more holes with a friend on the bag.

Also, two years ago on the PGA Tour Latinoamerica, two caddies died a few months apart, one of a heart attack in his hotel between rounds and another after collapsing on the course.

Higgs continued: “I don’t want to say weird to, like, take any gravity away from the situation, but it was just a weird situation. Everybody, I think everybody on property knew what had happened and everybody was flat. There was no energy, no juice on any of the holes coming in.

“And again, fortunately – it was just awkward, too. Walking right through that group and continuing to play and, fortunately, I mean, me personally, selfishly, it kept my mind at ease that we had gotten some good news as I played through that group basically. I don’t know. Maybe if it was not so good news – it was uncomfortable enough in a way that I could have seen myself being, like I’m not going to do this. Like it didn’t happen in my group, I didn’t get a firsthand account of anything, but this doesn’t feel right. I’m not going to keep going.

“Fortunately, we got some good news and kept going. I hope there’s more good news in the coming hours and days. Just a very difficult [situation] and kind of a first. Hopefully a last.”