Caddie Shannon Wallis looked at Matt Jones after 13 holes of last week’s BMW Championship and just knew it was time to advocate having a crack or die trying.
Jones was five over and holding up the field in the 70-man playoff event and his chances of a berth in the Tour Championship this week, and 2016’s opening three majors, was going up in smoke.
Caddies need to be part math genius, part mind reader, part psychologist and part mate during a round of golf – and Wallis is one of the best.
He showed why again that Thursday.
After a decent drive on the par-five 14th, Wallis gestured for the driver again and Jones, who had the same aggressive thought in the back of his mind, nodded.
“We figured it could only go one way or the other,” Wallis said.
“We might as well try to get something going, so that was my thought and I figured Matt would be thinking the same.”
And get something going they did. Jones birdied the hole and despite an overnight rain delay came out firing again, essentially going nine under through a 23-hole span to get back to four under and a chance of making Atlanta with a decent weekend.
As it turned out, the pair came agonisingly short – just 59 points throughout the long season – in 33rd place.
Jones might be hitting the shots, but he pulls no punches when he talks of Wallis’ influence.
Jones is a rapid player who can sometimes get a little agro with himself on course, but with Wallis, he has someone who can keep things light.
“Since he came on the bag at Bay Hill, where I finished third, my game has only gone from strength to strength,” Jones said last weekend.
“That’s why I am here this week with a chance to go to the Tour Championship.
“He is very chill. We can relax and just talk about anything on the golf course and that is what helps me. He doesn’t give me too many thoughts in my head, He knows what to say, when to say it and we make a good team.”
Success is no stranger to Wallis. He has been a staple on the caddie scene since 2003 when he started out with school friend Marcus Fraser in Europe and then spent nine seasons with Nathan Green in the USA, helping him from the secondary tour on to the big stage and being on the bag for his 2009 Canadian Open triumph.
In 2012, he made the switch to Jarrod Lyle and the pair had immediate success, with Lyle producing a career-best result in Los Angeles only to then be struck down with leukaemia as he was on the path to bigger and better things.
A quick stint with Aussie veteran Robert Allenby followed before a door opened with American Kevin Stadler.
Before long they were lifting the 2014 Phoenix Open trophy and were creating a dynamic team until Stadler was hurt.
“I’d like to think I can get along with most guys, but it’s always great being with another Aussie and Matt is a great bloke and a great player,” Wallis said.
“It’s just about keeping it real. You can’t lie; you just need to be honest when you’re out there.
“If you give a wrong number, own up, move on and get back to helping.
“You need to understand timing, when to talk, when to joke and with Matt, if he gets heated I know I need to be the calming influence if I can.
“There is no point me being grumpy or nervous or anything like that, I just have to keep doing my job and let him do his, which of course he is very good at.
“I hope we have a long career together because he is obviously on the way to bigger and better things in golf.
“We saw he led at the PGA Championship and he’ll have more chances like that in the future.”