09 Dec 2012
The appearance of Stuart Appleby on a leaderboard for the first time in nearly twenty months was a great relief for not only Appleby himself but for his many fans and friends in Australian golf and for his caddy Mike Waite.
Waite has had a roller coaster of a year.
After retiring several years ago to his home on the Gold Coast to own and operate a Subway franchise there, Waite has made the occasional foray back into tournament golf.
After all, caddying is just like playing the game in as much as it gets in your blood and the lure of the potential earnings and the nomadic lifestyle are attractive and infectious.
The New Zealander was keen therefore to get a part time bag - perhaps even a share arrangement similar to that he had with another part time caddy in Colin Burwood when they time shared the bag of Robert Allenby.
That came unstuck and although Waite made a cameo appearance to work for Allenby on one or two occasions over the past three years (including when he won the Australian PGA Championship in 2009), the opportunities along the lines he was seeking were not readily available.
Earlier this year however the break he had been waiting for came Waite's way.
With an injury to Lee Westwood's caddy, Billy Foster, Waite was head hunted for the role.
It was a big step as, at the time, Westwood was the world number three.
Waite was offered the role on Westwood's bag in the absence of the Englishman's regular bagman but only until Foster was fit and ready to go again.
Not that the big time was anything new for Waite.
He had after all caddied for several high profile players including Michael Campbell when the New Zealander won the US Open at Pinehurst in 2005.
Waite headed for the UK where his first event would be the European Tour's PGA Championship at Wentworth where Westwood finished midfield. It was two weeks later however, where the player caddy relationship appeared to be cemented.
Westwood won the Nordea Masters in Sweden and given the superstition that is often associated with professional golf, Waite had the evidence to prove that Westwood could win with him on the bag.
At the US Open a week later, Westwood had a last round charge halted by a ball caught up a tree early on day four.
A few weeks later however the partnership came to an end when Westwood began to make changes to his entourage.
His coach Pete Cowan was first to go and soon after it would be Waite.
Back on the Gold Coast Waite was keen to get another job for the big events in Australia and see where it might lead.
Appleby had been playing so poorly in recent times that he no longer had a regular caddy to travel with him to Australia and so Waite was offered the job on a two event basis.
Those events were the Talisker Masters and the Emirates Australian Open.
Appleby might not win this Australian Open but the signs are there that his game and confidence are on the way back, and Mike Waite will have played his part in bringing a level of self belief back to Appleby.
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