Dream win for Calcavecchia

By Brian Keogh

Big-hearted Mark Calcavecchia grabbed a dream win in the PODS Championship - with a little help from prisoner No 08083-040.

The 1989 Open winner, 46, took the title by a shot after Heath Slocum missed a four-footer on the 72nd hole that would have forced a play-off.

But it was also a good week for Calcavecchia's caddie Eric Larson, who banked his share of the $954,000 winner's cheque just a year after serving an 11-year prison term for cocaine dealing.

Calcavecchia promised Larsen a job when he got out of jail and the caddie was grateful for that loyalty as he stood beside the winner on the 18th green at Innisbrook's Copperhead Course.

Larson said: "He's been a great friend throughout the whole ordeal. I'm thankful and grateful for my friends who stood by me."

The caddie explained that he bought cocaine for $1,000 an ounce and sold it for $1,500 over a three or four year period before being sentenced in 1995.

Caddies and players visited him in jail, including Calcavecchia and his original employer Ken Green.

Speaking of those jail visits, Calcavecchia said: "In there you talk for three, four, five hours and it goes by so fast that you look at your watch, `Oh, E, I gotta go.'

"That's the hard part. You give him a hug and you know he's stuck in there, and it's really depressing, leaving, knowing he's gotta watch you walk out.

"And he has to turn his back and go back while I go out and get in my car and drive down to the 7-Eleven and get a nice, cold beer and think about what the hell he's going through."

Calcavecchia moved up 68 places to 62nd in the world rankings and now has an outside chance of qualifying for the Masters next month.

He has two more weeks to climb into the top 50 and earn an invitation to Augusta National.