PGA Tour caddie dies

Steve Duplantis, the tour caddie for Eric Axley, died early Tuesday morning. He stepped off a median in Del Mar and was hit by a taxi. Below is the story from the Associated Press:

SAN DIEGO — Steve Duplantis, a popular PGA Tour caddie known for bringing out the best in his players, was killed early Wednesday when he was struck by a taxi while crossing a street.

Duplantis was in Del Mar when he stepped off a center median and into the path of a taxi, said Sgt. Randy Webb of the San Diego Sheriff’s Department. The 35-year-old Duplantis was pronounced dead on the scene.

He was working at the Buick Invitational for Eric Axley.

Axley was visibly shaken when he arrived at Torrey Pines and asked for a few days before he commented.

A free spirit after hours and regarded among the best caddies inside the ropes, he previously won four times with Jim Furyk early in his career, with Rich Beem at the Kemper Open and with Tommy Armour III when he set the PGA Tour’s 72-hole scoring record at the Texas Open in 2003.

Among the nicknames caddies gave Duplantis was “Asbestos,” because he was thought to be fireproof. Even though he often showed up late for work after a night on the town, his value as a caddie was too much for players to replace him.

“He was one of the better caddies,” Armour said. “That’s why he kept getting hired. He was very confident with what he said.”

Armour, however, feared Duplantis’ nightlife would land him in trouble.

“Am I shocked by this? No,” Armour said. “I tried several times to get him some help. And I told him in 2003, ‘Bud, if you don’t change, you’re going to die a tragic death.’”

The mood was somber on the putting green, where some caddies were waiting on their players.

“He was a throwback,” caddie Patrick Smith said. “He raised the level of every player he worked for. He could take guys who were marginal and they would play well.”

Duplantis and his nightlife exploits were prominently featured in a book titled “Bud, Sweat and Tees,” a story primarily about Beem.

“Regardless of his reputation, he was a great caddie and didn’t have a bad bone in him,” caddie Mark Chaney said.

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press

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About Jill Painter

Jill Painter is a sports columnist for the Los Angeles News Group, covering everything from the Dodgers, Lakers, Clippers, USC, UCLA, Kings, golf and all human interest stories in sports.