Canadian Steve Duplantis, best known for guiding Rich Beem and [photopress:duplantis.jpg,full,alignright]Jim Furyk around the course, was killed last night when he was hit by a car, according to media reports. He was 35.
He was caddying for Eric Axley this week at the Buick Invitational this week. According to reports, Duplantis stepped off a median and was struck by a taxi.
I first encountered Duplantis when he was writing for Ontario Golf editor Ted McIntyre. Duplantis was from Brampton and rose to some prominence when he took Rich Beem from hawking cell phones to a PGA Tour title at the Kemper Open.
But Duplantis loved the wild life, something that was presented in detail in Alan Shipnuck’s book “Bud, Sweat and Tees: A Walk on the Wild Side of the PGA Tour.” The book was highly entertaining and focused on Duplantis’ outlandish behaviour and his inability to hold down a longtime gig with any one player. Frequently late for his job, he spent the last few years bouncing from player to player, including a stint on the LPGA Tour, as well as working with Daniel Chopra and Tommy Armour III.
Despite his often challenging lifestyle, he always brought the best out in his players — Armour carded a scoring record with Duplantis on the bag, and Beem won.
USA Today said the mood around the Buick was sober this morning:
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.
But Armour said he was always concerned Duplantis’ lifestyle would lead to a bad conclusion:
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.
Interestingly, I replaced Duplantis as “The Insider” columnist at Ontario Golf magazine. Ted McIntyre, who knew Duplantis well, blogs on the caddie here.
UPDATE: Shipnuck has written a touching warts-and-all column on Duplantis for Golf Magazine. Read it here.