NASSAU, Bahamas — The tanned, stubbled face behind the darkish sun shades and a black T-shirt beneath a white bib made Ryan Smith look the a part of a PGA Tour caddie within the Hero World Problem.
Looping for Tony Finau is a break from his day job, and Smith solely missed his common routine briefly when he thought of the calendar. The Utah Jazz proprietor could be lacking a house sport Friday night time in opposition to the Boston Celtics.
Even so, he could not cross up the chance.
Finau’s common caddie, Mark Urbanek, is dwelling as his spouse prepares to have a baby. Finau and Smith have been buddies in Salt Lake Metropolis longer than both can keep in mind.
“He known as me and he is like, ‘Bro, I want you to caddie for me.’ I needed to reply the bell, proper?” Smith mentioned after his boss for the week rolled in an 18-foot birdie putt for a 6-under 66 to take a seat one shot off the lead going into the weekend.
“When Tony calls, you go. He does not ask for lots.”
The Jazz beat the Celtics 137-130 in Smith’s absence.
This is not their first time contained in the ropes at a match. Finau and Smith have been companions twice within the Dunhill Hyperlinks Championship, a three-course rotation that permits Smith to tackle the Barry Burn at Carnoustie and the Highway Gap at St. Andrews.
“I have been subsequent to him as an newbie accomplice when he is in competition on the Previous Course, so I do know his sport effectively sufficient, and sort of his temperament,” Smith mentioned. “It is the proper setup.”
Smith reached the highest of the steps subsequent to the scoring room as Finau stepped inside to signal his card at Albany Golf Membership. This was extra work than play, however he was loving it.
“Hauling a 50-pound bag round, I believe everybody thinks I am on trip,” he mentioned. “That is laborious work. I am exhausted.”
Smith is co-founder of Qualtrics, a cloud-computing firm in Utah that was offered to German software program agency SAP for $8 billion three years in the past. The 44-year-old then grew to become majority proprietor of the Jazz a 12 months in the past.
Basketball has been a lifelong ardour, and so has golf.
“I had a stepfather who’s now not with us, however he sort of bought me stepping into golf,” Smith mentioned. “I labored at a golf course after I was 14 years previous, selecting balls on the vary after which simply cherished it. In some unspecified time in the future in my 20s, I used to be like, ‘OK, you have to sit down and see what your issues are. And golf is one in every of my issues.”
Whilst he was constructing Qualtrics, Smith spent sufficient time on his sport to get all the way down to a 2 handicap index. Together with enjoying the Dunhill Hyperlinks with Finau in 2018 and 2019, he has been on the AT&T Pebble Seaside Professional-Am with gamers like Branden Grace and Josh Teater.
Smith gained the Jack Lemmon Award at Pebble in 2019, giving to the newbie who gives essentially the most assist to his professional. He and Teater completed third within the pro-am.
“It is like suiting up and enjoying an NBA preseason sport,” Smith mentioned.
As a lot as he loves the competitors, Smith finds nice worth in relationships by means of golf, to not point out just a little peace and quiet.
“A few of the greatest enterprise relationships and one of the best companions I’ve met on the golf programs. No manner our paths would have crossed if not for this sport,” he mentioned. “And it is the one place I am going the place the cellphone stays within the bag, which is unbelievable.
“My spouse says, ‘You want yoga.’ I inform her my yoga is golf.”
Smith performs as a lot basketball as he does golf with Finau, one of many extra widespread gamers on the PGA Tour. Finau ended a drought that stretched 142 tournaments over 5 years when he gained The Northern Belief to begin the PGA Tour’s postseason.
That victory made Finau a shoo-in to be picked for the Ryder Cup workforce, the place he teamed with Harris English throughout a file rout by the People at Whistling Straits.
This can be a good strategy to finish an enormous 12 months — a 20-man area of elite gamers, a $3.5 million purse and $1 million to the winner. Finau says his billionaire pal might be handled like his common caddie.
“He is taking an excessive pay reduce, I do know that,” Finau informed Golf Channel. “It is a enjoyable environment and the proper match to convey Ryan alongside.”