Crawford’s Caddie Sidelined After Spill

Amateur Christopher Crawford drives on the third hole during his Tuesday practice round.
Amateur Christopher Crawford drives on the third hole during his Tuesday practice round.  (USGA/Darren Carroll)

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OAKMONT, Pa. – During his Monday practice round, amateur Christopher Crawford reveled in the notoriety of the heroics that earned him a place in the 116th U.S. Open at Oakmont.

“We had some people out there yelling,” said Crawford, 22. “They sort of knew who I was.”

On Tuesday, while playing a practice round with world No. 1 Jason Day, Crawford – or more specifically his caddie – was noticed for the wrong reason.

As Day prepared to play a bunker shot on the par-3 sixth hole at Oakmont, Bill Henaghan, Crawford’s caddie, tumbled and suffered an apparent broken left ankle.

“He was walking around the bunker pretty quick to get out of my way, I think, and he fell down a little bit and I hear this ‘snap,’ and I thought that sounded weird,” Day told Mark Hayes of Golf Australia. “I turned around and he said, ‘Jason, I’ve just snapped my ankle.’ I said, ‘What?’ and he said it again, ‘I’ve snapped my ankle. I’m OK, so you go ahead.’ He was actually asking me to hit. I was, ‘Mate, I’m not going to hit, I’m going to try to get a medic over here.’”

Jim Bradley, the longtime team doctor for the Pittsburgh Steelers and an Oakmont member, was walking with the group, and he confirmed Henaghan’s diagnosis, calling it a “clean break” of the ankle.

“He actually handled it incredibly well,” Crawford told Ryan Lavner of Golf Channel. “He just sat there, like, ‘I’m fine, I’m fine. It’s broken, but I’m fine.’”

When Day supported Henaghan as he was helped out of the bunker, Crawford interceded.

“I stopped Jason,” Crawford said, “like, ‘No, I got this. He’s my caddie.’”

It wasn’t how Crawford envisioned his day going as he warmed up Tuesday morning, with 2007 U.S. Open champion Angel Cabrera on his right and Day and Dustin Johnson a little farther away.

“This is pretty cool,” Crawford said at the time. “I’m starting to get used to the atmosphere after a couple of days, but it’s been incredible – everything I expected and more.”

Crawford, who won seven tournaments during his just-completed college career at Drexel University, had signed on for the 12:30 p.m. practice-round starting time when he saw Day’s name on the sheet.

“I figured I had to give it a shot,” Crawford said.

Although Crawford has played in three U.S. Amateurs (2011, 2013 and 2014), his only previous U.S. Open experience had been as a spectator during a practice round in 2013 at Merion Golf Club, not far from his home in Bensalem, Pa.

That all changed when Crawford sank a 40-foot birdie putt on the 36th hole of his sectional qualifier at Canoe Brook Country Club in Summit, N.J., on June 6 to earn one of six berths at Oakmont.

Footage of Crawford’s improbable final putt has been widely seen, and when he begins play on Thursday, he may be reunited with Ben Feld, the caddie who helped him line up the putt that got him to Oakmont.

Feld, the golf coach at Drexel, is expected to be on hand after losing on Tuesday in the quarterfinals of the Philadelphia Amateur. It’s not the first time that Henaghan, a longtime family friend, has injured himself caddieing for Crawford, as he was diagnosed with a torn rotator cuff soon after the 2011 U.S. Amateur at Erin Hills.

“Poor fella, I feel so sorry for him,” Day told Golf Australia. “He was probably so jacked to caddie at the U.S. Open, especially at Oakmont, and then to have it done on Hole 6 of a practice round two days before it all starts, that’s pretty devastating.”

The week can only get better for Crawford.