HONOLULU – Benji Weatherley has been to Portugal and South Africa, to Hawaii and the south of France, just about everywhere a pro surfer would want to go. And yet one of the biggest thrills of his life happened Thursday just down the coast from Waikiki Beach.
He lugged around a golf bag for five hours at the Sony Open.
Not just any bag, either.
Weatherley is the substitute caddie for Masters champion Adam Scott, the No. 2 player in the world. They met through surf champion Kelly Slater about four years ago in San Diego and stayed in touch. When Scott's regular looper, Steve Williams, headed home to New Zealand to race cars, he asked Weatherley to join him.
"This guy is taking himself so far out of his comfort zone," Scott said.
But he did the job. Scott referred to him as a bogey-free caddie after he opened with a 67.
Weatherley was talking about the surf at the Pipeline earlier this week, how surfers in Hawaii measure a wave by the crest (back) instead of the face. So when he took Scott out "for a swim" on Tuesday, what the locals called 6- to 8-foot waves looked closer to 15 feet.
"It's a macho thing that Hawaii guys do," said Weatherley, who lives north of San Diego.
Did he feel macho as a caddie?
"I do when he hits driver," Weatherley said. "When he hits driver, like on No. 1, I've never seen a ball go near that far. He had to be 100 yards ahead of those guys. And how far is that hole, like 470? Isn't it usually a par 5?"
Scott hit that tee shot 362 yards (downwind). He was only 35 yards ahead of Jason Dufner. The hole is 489 yards. And yes, it's a par 5 for the Waialae members.
"But then on the fifth, you know that hole with the dip in it?" Weatherley continued. "He hit the down slope and it shot into the ravine. We're in the middle of rough this thick (motioning a foot high) with this tree in front of us, and I'm like, 'We have to chip out.' He grabs the 54-degree wedge."
So why hit driver?
"Good call," Weatherley said. "Yesterday he hit driver and it was perfect. But the crowd told us it landed on the slope. It's one of those things tomorrow I'll remind him. But I'm not sure I should. It's nice hitting all those lob wedges."
Scott already spent time this week in Weatherley's world, going out to the North Shore of Oahu. They went body surfing — at the urging of Slater — as Scott's coach and brother-in-law Brad Malone stood in the sand with what Weatherley described as an anguished looked that said, "Please don't do that."
Scott had no choice.
"We had the Tiger Woods of our sport — Slater — telling him, 'You gotta live, man.' I was on the fence about letting him go," Weatherley said. "Kelly said, 'What are you talking about?' As soon as Kelly calls you out ... and he paddled by to make sure Adam wasn't going to turn around."
Weatherley describes Scott as a 12-handicap in surfing, not so much for what he can do on a board, but for his ability to be in the right position with surfers around him.
It was a risk, giving PGA Tour history in Hawaii. Geoff Ogilvy sliced open his finger on coral in 2011. Lucas Glover injured his knee on a paddle board in 2012. Both had to withdraw from Kapalua and missed significant time that year.
"It was insane. We got smashed," Weatherley said.
But not injured. Scott finished strong at Waialae with a pair of birdies, and he kept bogeys off his card in the opening round. Besides, he wasn't worried.
"I knew I'd be fine," he said. "I can swim."
And he also can pull his head from the bottom of the ocean, the result of one rather powerful wave. No matter. Scott loves the surf, always has. He was asked if he would be content to stay on the North Shore if he had only one place on earth to surf.
"I'd last maybe two days," Scott said.
"He'd eventually die," Weatherley added. "But it would be a nice death."
Scott only said a "mate of mine" was going to be caddying for him at the Sony Open. When asked if his "mate" was anyone worth mentioning, Scott recalled the conversation and finished the sentence Thursday.
"I said, 'No,'" he said with a smile. "I needed him under the radar, focused. If I let you guys get ahold of him on Tuesday, Wednesday, he'd be a rock star by now."
Weatherley couldn't agree more.
"What would you write? I dance on the water?" he said. "It's all (nonsense). But when I'm the best caddie on earth? Then you'll care."
He wasn't serious. Surfers rarely are.