Edoardo sounds like a man going places


CADDIE'S ROLE:My new man has the presence of mind to plan and choose his route to the very top, writes COLIN BYRNE

LIVING IN the world of golf has sometimes immunized me from the sense of geography that I should have as an Irishman, during the week of the Irish Open.

I should have been inherently aware of where last week’s event was being played. Instead, I was enjoying a week off tour and the only golf concerning me was my own erratic amateur efforts around my home course.

A friend visited me last Thursday who had been in Killarney making yardage books for the professionals at the Killeen course. He was flicking through the television channels and happened upon the coverage of the golf.

With the advance of technology and the dedication and skill of the modern professional, there were varying opinions about what the likely outcome would be in the event.

It was not easy to compare with the last time the Irish Open was held there in the early 90s, when Nick Faldo won and my friend had caddied for him.

He suggested that one of these talented golfers had a chance to break 60, but that there were plenty of opportunities for disaster for those not on top of their game.

Ross Fisher shot 61 on Friday and others clocked up high numbers on many holes throughout the week.

It is important to keep a balance about other aspects of life when you are living in the game of professional golf. Even if your national Open is being played the very same week that you are home, it would not be too abnormal to be relatively distanced from the week’s proceedings, when not directly involved.

Given the excess of golf on the television on a weekly basis, it is a credit to the sponsors that they attracted such a good field to Killarney this year and such a large attendance of spectators.

It was still a modest gathering compared to the star-studded field at Adare Manor last month, that attracted such a large gathering for what was, after all, just a two day pro-am. If we hadn’t had so many loyal local Irish golfing heroes in Pádraig, Rory and Graeme last week, I am not sure how good the attendance would have been.

I can only hope the AIB Ladies Irish Open being staged at the elegant Killeen Castle in county Meath this week will lure some of the live golf fans up from Kerry. The event is an altogether different experience from the more assertive atmosphere of men’s golf, compared to the more demure mood of the ladies’ game. Even if ladies’ golf is not quite as dynamic as men’s, the spectators can still enjoy the more stately grace of the women’s game in Killeen Castle this week. Much like last week in Killarney, simply walking the picturesque course is rewarding enough, and getting to watch good golf along the way is an added bonus.

Sometimes, as a caddie, your global schedule does not always permit you to take advantage of working at events that are held closer to home.

So, having reconnected to the Irish Open through my cartographer friend, I was not going to get to watch the denouement last Sunday.

I knew I would be crossing the Atlantic instead to assume duty with my new boss, the talented and very much in-form, older Molinari brother from Turin, Edoardo.

Sensibly, he was anxious for us to spend an extra day together before the first round of the Bridgestone Invitational, which starts in Akron, Ohio this Thursday.

He felt that it would be a good idea to get to know each other a little better by arriving in the US a day earlier than normal. Apart from our original negotiations and my initial question of why he would want to change caddie, given the success he has enjoyed with his old bagman, Edoardo sounds like he knows exactly what he wants and has the presence of mind to plan and choose his route to the top of the professional game.

He convinced me that I should go to America with him, and a day early too.

My hunch about the Irish Open, (as I had plenty of time to ponder the outcome of events in Killarney during my eight-hour transatlantic trip), was that Ross Fisher was playing the better golf and that Houdini Harrington couldn’t possibly have the audacity to continue to extract himself from impossible positions during the final round.

The fact that Fisher has a brand new caddie on the bag was also going to shorten Fisher’s odds of victory, due to the unwritten caddie shack rule that once a long term caddie/player relationship ends, the new team tends to do remarkably well in their first outing. Nobody can explain why, apart from the mystical wishes of the golfing gods.

The one thing I have learnt, having seen the great and the good at such close proximity over the years, is that holing putts is more valuable than hitting fairways with your drives. Technique is important but short game is indispensable.

Technique is unfortunately where my last partnership ran aground. The need for technical excellence became greater than the aptitude required for scoring.

The game of golf is about getting the ball in the hole, especially when you are nervous. In my opinion, good putters can deal with the pressure of holing putts that everyone, including the players themselves, expects them to hole. As this week’s Irish Open proved to a point, that chipping and putting hold even the best golfers games together, cite one Pádraig Harrington.

So, despite being removed from the final showdown of the Irish Open, I am very much in situ for the Bridgestone International in Ohio with a great new player, who more importantly, understands how to play the game of golf.