Eight years ago, Michael Greller, a former high-school and small-college golfer, was teaching at Narrows View Intermediate School in University Place when he decided to give caddying a try.

Share story

UNIVERSITY PLACE — There was a time when all Michael Greller wanted to do was caddie for someone, anyone, in the U.S. Open this weekend at Chambers Bay.

A scene such as this — standing on the 18th green with his father and wife while the trophy was handed to the man whose bag he had just carried, Jordan Spieth — would have been too outlandish to imagine.

“It hasn’t sunk in,” Greller said about an hour after Spieth had won the 115th U.S. Open at Chambers Bay. “I think there’s a lot of shock.”

There’s also the makings of a pretty good movie.


Eight years ago, Greller, a former high-school and small-college golfer, was a teacher at Narrows View Intermediate School in University Place when he decided he might like to give caddying a try.

He attended a meeting for potential caddies at Chambers Bay, which had just opened, and soon was hooked. When the course landed the right to host the U.S. Open, Greller set a simple — and potentially outlandish — goal.

“I mean, seven years ago my dream, my caddie dream, was to caddie this week,” he said. “I never could have envisioned any of the things that happened between then and now, and I certainly never thought about winning this U.S. Open.”

After he’d been a caddie for a few years locally, a series of somewhat unlikely events led Greller to become the caddie for Spieth at the U.S. Junior Amateur at Gold Mountain in Bremerton in 2011. Spieth won the tournament.

And when Spieth decided to turn pro in 2012 after one year at Texas, he asked Greller if he would become his full-time caddie. Greller took the leap, deciding to take a leave of absence from his teaching job to devote all his time to caddying and Spieth.

Now he’s on his way to becoming one of the better-known caddies on the tour, working for the hottest name in the game.

All weekend, though, were reminders of his former life.

Adding to the Hollywood quality of it all, Greller was married at Chambers Bay two years ago. Walking to the 10th hole Sunday, he saw the man whose wife introduced Greller to his wife.

 

Related video: Bright styles at the U.S. Open

Golf fans at the U.S. Open express their fashion style in bright color and preppy details and offer tips for what others should wear to Chambers Bay. Read more. (Katie G. Cotterill & Lauren Frohne / The Seattle Times)    

“I was like, ‘What are you doing?’ ” Greller recalled with a laugh.

Greller, though, downplayed the notion that his local knowledge helped Spieth all that much, estimating he had caddied only about 40 rounds at Chambers and hadn’t worked the course much the past five years.

Spieth said otherwise.

“That was probably the best work Michael has ever done this week to get me through,” Spieth said.

In particular, he cited the moments after Spieth’s double bogey on 17 on Sunday threatened to have cost him the tournament.

Greller reinforced their mantra of “taking a picture” of a positive shot. “I told him to take some deep breaths and just re-center himself,” Greller said, also reminding Spieth that the shot he would need to make on his approach to 18 was one he had made earlier in the day on the 13th.

“Michael is the one who just shoved positive thoughts into my head the whole week,” said Spieth, who said his game was not to the level that it had been when he won the Masters in April. “ … Certain times I was getting frustrated out there, that maybe it could only be seen between me and Michael. And he deserves a lot of credit this week.”

After Spieth birdied the hole, the two headed into the scorer’s tent behind the 18th hole to wait out the final group. Spieth figured a playoff was inevitable, lamenting the 17th. Greller told him to “be positive.” Then came Johnson’s inexplicable miss, handing the tournament to Spieth.

“We didn’t really know what to do,” Spieth said. “Then he got up. He said, ‘Dude, give me a hug, you did it.’ It was really cool. It’s amazing. What a special place for Michael.”

As Spieth talked to a few reporters afterward, Greller’s wife, Ellie, a kindergarten teacher, stood close by smiling while one of his nephews twirled the flag from the 18th green in the air.

It was a weekend of memorable moments almost too many to count. The one that stood out was from the trophy ceremony.

“Looking at just the sea of people, and Jordan is giving his acceptance speech, and I’m standing with my wife and my father on Father’s Day,” Greller said. “And I was like, ‘Wow, this really happened.’ That was pretty special.”