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Tony Navarro

Moline resident Tony Navarro caddies for Nick Watney during the first round of the John Deere Classic on Thursday in Silvis.

Tony Navarro is glad to be back home this week.

More importantly, the Quad-Cities native is glad to be in a good situation that brought him back to his Moline home. 

The 58-year-old PGA Tour caddie was sweaty but smiling after Thursday's first round of the $5.8 million John Deere Classic at TPC Deere Run. His pro, Nick Watney, had just finished a 3-under round of 68 that was a decent start to the 48th annual event.

“It's a busy week, there are some family matters that we're looking after, but it's also good to spend time at home,” said Navarro, who has been hauling Tour bags around courses for the better part of 40 years. 

Busy is right. And interesting.

Navarro said this is his fifth straight week of work, which is usually good news for the pro and the caddie. However, Navarro's string features a different week thrown in there.

After Watney missed U.S. Open qualifying in Columbus, Ohio, by a shot, he said he received a text from Steve Stricker, who advanced through qualifying in Memphis.

The two teamed up for a T20 finish.

“Steve and I have been friendly for many, many years,” said Navarro, who has known the Strickers since Steve's wife, Nicki, caddied for him on a regular basis. “That was the first opportunity I ever had to caddie for him. I was happy to do it; I love Shinnecock (Hills), and Steve is a terrific guy let alone a great player. It was a nice opportunity for me.”

But that one-time gig with Stricker was simply a “fill-in” job for Navarro, and he feels as if he is in a good spot as the 37-year-old Watney continues his comeback from a year off in 2016 dealing with back issues.

Watney, ranked No. 105 in the Official World Golf Ranking, is 91st in this year's FedExCup race and looking to improve his status. He has one top 10 finish — a tie for second at the Wells Fargo Championship.

“I've known Tony for a long time, and he is definitely an icon out here,” Watney said. “When I came back (from my injury in 2017) he was available so I gave him a call.”

Navarro is confident things are trending in the right direction for his pro, with 16 made cuts in 20 starts this season.

“He's on the cusp of doing some really good things,” Navarro said of the native Californian. “Just sometimes you have to be real patient and let things come easy.”

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