Michael Greller, a sixth-grade teacher from University Place, seized chances and became the steadying hand for superstar Jordan Spieth.

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A few hours earlier, thousands of people had lined the spot where Michael Greller and his wife, Ellie, were now sitting next to the 18th green at Augusta National Golf Club.

The crowd had been standing and cheering as 21-year-old Jordan Spieth made his victorious walk up the 18th fairway with Greller, his caddie, at his side.

But now, after Spieth donned the famous green jacket for winning the Masters, after Champagne toasts in famed Butler Cabin, and after the crowds went home, Greller at last had a quiet moment with his wife.

“It was complete peace,” Greller, 37, said of that special time last month. “We just reflected on the tournament and on all the events that had changed the course of our lives. It was really special.”

Three years earlier, the couple watched the final round of the Masters on television. Ellie was a kindergarten teacher at Artondale Elementary in Gig Harbor, and Greller a sixth-grade teacher at Narrows View Intermediate in University Place. He was caddying on the side at Chambers Bay golf course and occasionally for top amateurs Spieth and Justin Thomas.

It was then that Ellie broached the idea that his hobby could become his job.

“How will you feel if in five to 10 years, Jordan or Justin wins the Masters, and someone else is carrying their bag?” she asked. “Will you regret it?”

This year, on that Sunday night, there were no regrets along the 18th green as they sat there by themselves, reflecting on how this had all happened.

A caddie is born

It began on a whim.

Greller, a Michigan native, had played golf at Northwestern College, an NAIA Division II school in Iowa. In 2006, he was teaching in Port Orchard and went to the U.S. Amateur Public Links at Gold Mountain’s Olympic Course in Bremerton as a fan.

Greller followed the featured group in the first round of stroke play, noticing that Florida State star Matt Savage was carrying his own bag.

“I had never caddied before, but everyone else had a caddie and he didn’t,” Greller said.

So Greller, an outgoing guy, approached Savage after the round, explained he was an accomplished golfer and would carry his bag for nothing. Savage accepted and made it to the quarterfinals of match play with Greller at his side.

“He ended up birdieing the first hole we were together, making a 20-footer,” Greller said. “My caddying career was on at that moment.”

He liked it enough to get a teaching job in University Place so he could be nearer to Chambers Bay, the course that was opening up there, and work as a caddie on the side.

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It’s who you know

His next big break came four years later when Chambers Bay hosted the U.S. Amateur in 2010.

Thomas, a budding star, needed a caddie, and his friend Savage told him about Greller. Thomas used Greller for that tournament, and for the next two U.S. Amateurs as well.

Thanks to Thomas, Greller got the opportunity that changed his life.

The U.S. Junior Amateur was at Gold Mountain in 2011. Greller had committed to working for Gavin Hall, but Hall suffered an injury and withdrew.

So Greller set his sights on Spieth, who finished in the top 10 in a PGA Tour event as a 16-year-old. Thomas and Spieth were friends, and Greller asked Thomas to help him land the job working with Spieth.

“I wanted to work with the best,” Greller said.

When Greller asked Thomas for help, “he teased me that he didn’t want to hook me up with him,” Greller said. “He joked that he didn’t want to see us win.”

But with Thomas’ help, Greller got the player he wanted.

The two hit it off, and Spieth won his second Junior Amateur, joining Tiger Woods as the only players to win it more than once.

But Spieth was heading off to begin his freshman year at Texas, and Greller was headed back to his sixth-graders at Narrows View, both seemingly a long way from a victorious walk at the Masters.

A career change

In 2012, Spieth qualified for the U.S. Open and had Greller caddie for him. Spieth finished tied for 21st, the best finish by an amateur. Buoyed by that performance, he turned pro in December of that year.

Spieth’s father, Shawn, asked Greller if he would be Jordan’s full-time caddie.

It was a surprise move to many. A caddie’s job is complex. In addition to carrying the player’s bag, a caddie must know things such as the yardage to a hole from every conceivable spot and be able to read which direction a putt will move. In that respect, it would have made more sense for Spieth to have hired a caddie with vast PGA Tour experience.

But just as important, a caddie is a cheerleader, confidant and sports psychologist.

Spieth said that he chose Greller because he “knew my game, knew how I go through my process before each shot and was a good friend off the course.”

Greller took a year’s sabbatical from his teaching job to join Spieth.

Spieth had no status on professional tours, but because of his high profile, he received some sponsor’s exemptions and quickly made enough money to become a temporary member of the PGA Tour.

For Greller, the relationship part of the job came naturally.

“Everything I have done in my life prepared me for this, specifically teaching for 10 years,” Greller said last year at the U.S. Open. “Being able to think on your feet, being adaptable and having thick skin. … You have to be willing to serve and encourage. Just like in teaching.”

After Spieth’s hot start to his professional career, Greller let Narrows View know he was not coming back.

It was a good call. Spieth has won three times on the PGA Tour, including the Masters, easily won the Australian Open, played in a Ryder Cup and risen to No. 2 in the world. (Rory McIllroy of Northern Ireland is currently No. 1.)

In addition to base pay, caddies typically get a 10 percent bonus when their player wins a tournament and a 7 percent bonus for top-10 finishes. In the 30 days ending with the Masters, Spieth made $4.1 million with two wins and two seconds. Using traditional rates, Greller would have made $375,000 in bonuses in that time period alone.

It’s all about relationships

Greller is 16 years older than Spieth. Their relationship, Greller said, is like older brother-younger brother. The two argue about sports teams and are competitive in everything they do together.

But Greller said the most important thing they have in common is strong bonds with their families, with Spieth drawing attention recently for his warm relationship with his 14-year-old sister, Ellie, who has special needs.

“The way he treats his family and friends, and the way he relates to his family, is similar to how I relate to my family,” Greller said. “Jordan is very witty, and he likes to dish it out, but he’s always very respectful. He treats people with tremendous respect.”

In the summer of 2013, Spieth qualified for the no-cut World Golf Championship event in Akron, Ohio, but he didn’t play. He was at Greller’s wedding at Chambers Bay.

When Greller’s father had health complications while Greller was at a tournament a couple of years ago, Spieth encouraged his caddie to get on a plane and be with his father.

“Jordan is a very loyal person, and you always know that,” Greller said.

Spieth said Greller is the steadying influence he needs on the course.

“He’s one of the most competitive people that I know, but he doesn’t show it on the course, which is very helpful,” Spieth said during Masters week. “He’s not living or dying on putts. He brings a nice voice to me when I need it, especially in the heat of the moment.”

In the final round of the Masters, when it looked for a minute like Spieth might be losing control of the tournament, Greller spoke up.

“He said, ‘All right, we still got this thing.’ He likes to say we’ve got pocket aces, we are already ahead, we just have to play it out. Michael beats me at poker a lot, by the way, so I just trust him.”

A triumphant return

Greller is looking forward to coming back to Chambers Bay for June’s U.S. Open, less than a mile from Narrows View Intermediate School, where he forged important relationships.

Related: USGA to hold fan event at Lake Union Park during U.S. Open

“The students and staff loved him and the parents adored him,” said Jennifer Wong, the principal. “He was super positive and really special to (his students) in so many ways. It was a huge loss for us when he left, but we encouraged him to do it because it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. We are thrilled it has worked out so well.”

Wong said Greller has “substituted from time to time” since joining Spieth, and has even done so in the past year.

“Honestly, I do miss those relationships with the kids,” Greller said. “There is something about working with middle-schoolers. They are very excited about life, and I just like the joy and the passion that they have and their general outlook on things. It’s refreshing, because I think the older we get the more jaded we get, the more we see things from a different lens.

“So I do miss it, but I don’t dwell on it, because I love what I do now. I think I am a relationship kind of person, so I thrive on that. But it’s the same thing out here with Jordan. Now I have one kid.”

Greller downplays any advantage his years of caddying at Chambers Bay might give Spieth.

“The biggest advantage is I get to sleep in my own bed,” he said. “These caddies are the best in the world, and they will figure it out. But it will be cool to look in the crowd and see familiar faces and former students. I have heard from a lot of kids who will be volunteering that week, so that part is neat.”

Increasingly, Greller is becoming a story: the schoolteacher turned caddie for the game’s newest superstar. The attention is one part of the job with which Greller is not comfortable.

“Jordan is the one hitting all the shots,” Greller said. “I don’t ever want to make it about me, or do anything to take away from what he has done. But people have questions, and I have to balance that out.

“There is no training manual for how to do this. For teaching, I had years of preparation. This is much different.”

Not that he would give it up.

And if it gets too crazy, he can think back to those late-night moments he spent with his wife near the 18th green at Augusta National. It doesn’t get much better than that.