Jack Clarke spoke to NCG about the whirlwind of caddying for Ludvig Aberg this year and what the future holds in 2024…
Few people have watched history unfold before their very eyes.
Jack Clarke did not only spectate but was an integral part of the biggest Ryder Cup thumping ever dished out.
Being 7 up after nine holes could relax even the most anxious golfers, let alone Hovland who was in a buoyant mood entering the back nine.
“It was quite surreal,” Clarke told NCG. “We’re still trying to win the game, I know Scottie and Brooks were four or five-over-par, but we were six or seven-under-par in foursomes which was pretty unbelievable golf.
“We were walking up 10 and me and Shay (Knight, Hovland’s caddie) were walking together, we just said, ’Let’s try and finish it off now’.
“Viktor just turned around and said, ‘Well if it weren’t for you two, we’d have been done by now!’
“It was just that kind of silly little joke – it was funny to relax the mood and then they won 10 and 11 to make it a historic moment.”
Months of sleepless nights for captain Luke Donald were forgotten as Aberg dashed any doubters as one of the Englishman’s wildcard picks.
The young Swede helped to produce the biggest margin of victory in any Ryder Cup match ever, and won two points in four sessions at Marco Simone.
To think Aberg turned professional in June and played for Europe three months later is astonishing, and Clarke is astonished too despite realising his potential before any of us.
It was November time in 2022 when Clarke and Aberg paired up. He knew the 24-year-old from his college days and through his coach Hans Larsson who works with Clarke’s fiancé Madelene Sagstrom.
“It has been a rollercoaster, I’m not going to lie. It’s been a slow rollercoaster, we’ve taken it in our stride and he shocks me that he’s handled it so well for being such a young man.
“Seeing him grow as an individual is pretty special in my eyes.
“He just takes it in every stride he has and for everything that’s been thrown on to him, he’s just like ‘OK I’m here to play golf now’.
“So that’s that kid mentality in him, which is great, and hopefully that stays with him for the rest of his life, because that’s going to be so important.”
Jack Clarke: Who is Ludvig Aberg’s caddie?
Clarke was an outstanding amateur himself, winning everything there was to win in Essex, then moving up the ranks in an England squad including the likes of Tommy Fleetwood, Eddie Pepperell and Andrew Jonhston.
He turned professional but a ruptured muscle in his lower back caused problems, taking him to what he admits was a “low point” in his career.
Clarke’s injuries brought an end to his playing prospects, but he shifted into caddying and acquired the bag of his close friend Gemma Dryburgh on the LPGA Tour.
This led to meeting the one-time LPGA Tour winner Sagstrom who he caddied for at the 2021 Solheim Cup, having previously carried for Caroline Hedwall at Gleneagles in 2019.
“They both have very similar things about them,” Clarke said of the Solheim Cup and the Ryder Cup.
“The Solheim – you’ve got the pressure from the women’s side because it’s the 24 best women in the world, exactly the same as the men – the pressure is there, and you need to produce on the biggest stage in front of millions and millions of people.
“I went to the one in Spain before the one in Italy and just by helping out with Suzann (Pettersen) and the team, I could feel the pressure in just being a helper, let alone actually being inside the ropes caddying.
“They’re very similar, they’re just the biggest stage for the two biggest tours.”
Not only could Clarke have more dates against the USA to look forward to at Bethpage and Adare Manor, but Aberg will also start his major career at the Masters in April.
He has never played in one of golf’s big for events and golf fans are feverish to find out how he fares on his debut at Augusta National.
“Our first major being Augusta is going to be pretty special,” Clarke added.
“Hopefully, I can get over there and take a quick peak round, but if not, it’ll just have to be some long days in that week to get me up to date with the course.”
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