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JP Fitzgerald

I hear you need a new caddie, Rory – come and get me

Mark Townsend outlines what makes him the outstanding candidate to become Rory McIlroy's new caddie after the four-time major champion sacked JP Fitzgerald
 

Dear Rory,

Forgive the intrusion but we have met, a couple of times actually. The first time was at Adare Manor in 2008 where we reminisced about your Open debut the previous summer. The second was in New York when Nike released some new clubs.

Not ringing any bells is it?

Anyway, the reason for my missive is that I would like to be your new caddie. That got your attention, didn’t it? You like that type of assertiveness, don’t you?

A bit about myself – I’m married (like you), play off single figures (like you), love to travel (like you), enjoy all sports (like you) and am a member of a gym (like you).

The last bit isn’t true. I joined in early January when I was at a low ebb with my general appearance but then cancelled after realising my half-arsed static bike ride was costing me 10 quid a pop.

I should point out the other negatives before we move on to the good stuff. I’ve got three children under three so leaving the house outside work hours is a bit of a problem but, should this come off, I’d like to think that we could arrange some hired help. I’m not looking for an advance, just thinking out loud.

I’m also a terrible flyer so the thought of joining you on a private jet sets my heart fluttering. What I like to do when taking to the skies is have a bit of medicated help so, if you were hoping to chat strategy at 36,000 miles, then it’s not going to happen. I can barely function let alone interpret some data on your newly cranked 2-iron. Once we land I’m all yours.

I’m not far off some sort of back surgery but here I’m hoping that some of your posture and core work will rub off on me and we can delay going under the knife.

It’s all sounding a bit one-sided so far. What’s in it for me, I hear you ask.

Where to start? Well, my back catalogue of looping offers some merit.

You remember the Dunhill Links, right? You got your European Tour card by finishing third in it about five minutes after turning pro. That’s the one.

Well, I’ve done two of these carrying a stand bag for a school friend who somehow got an invite about a decade ago and, even stranger, was asked back. We didn’t make the Sunday on either occasion but I still have my detailed course notes and, with the Open taking place at Carnoustie next year, I thought this would be a notable tick in my box.

Then we’ve only got to wait until 2021 before the Old Course notes can come out again.

This might sound a bit flakey but I’d like to share one particular moment, which I hope shows the sort of character that I am.

On the Saturday morning in 2008, my school friend and I were sitting outside the Old Course Hotel in my Nissan Almera. You’ve never seen rain like it. It was the type that was a bit scary and claustrophobic even sat in the relative comfort of a car, so any range time was impossible. We passed the time doing our best impressions and quoting The Day Today.

My friend, who I have known since 1983, looked at me and said: “You know you don’t have to do this. I’ll carry my bag.”

I didn’t even dignify his words with a response. If he thought I was going to leave him hanging, despite sitting on a team score of 3 over when it likely take about 18 under to get in for the Sunday, then he didn’t know me at all.

There were times when I was bent double to get through the wind and the rain, while trying to protect my man with our only umbrella, but we made it. We might not have got into red figures but this was about more than that, this was about seeing the job through.

We walked off the 9th green – we started at the 10th which was a niggle given where we had parked with another layer firmly added to our long-standing friendship.

Rory caddie

My other caddying experience came at the Scottish Senior Open with Gary Wolstenholme. We won’t go into too many details other than to say we finished 13th.

On the downside, I have only caddied in Fife and Angus but the east coast of Scotland is surely not a bad place to start.

As for the nuts and bolts of the job, see me as a sponge. I’m a people person. I’ll pick the brains of the best and adjust my skills accordingly. See me as a blank canvas, as well as the sponge.

I’ll have your numbers ready for you on every shot, I’ll organise a Green Book early Tuesday, I’ll take more of an interest in how the wind blows, I’ll make your favourite sandwiches for you the night before, I’ll mark your balls up and, like JP, what goes on tour stays on tour.

See me as the soul of discretion, it’s you and me, kiddo – plus your management team and all the hangers-on – against the world.

Let’s get to Augusta and get that monkey off your back. You’re Rory McIlroy, what the f–k are you doing?!

Sorry about the industrial language, it’s just I know that it got you going at Birkdale.

Finally, vetoes. These days we are all talking about vetoes and the opportunity to stop your player doing something silly. Phil Mickelson gave Bones one a year, Michael Greller has two with Jordan Spieth.

I don’t want any. You’re hitting the shots, you know your own capabilities and how you’re feeling over the shot. The last thing you want is someone telling you what to do.

Look forward to hearing from you,

Mark Townsend

Mark Townsend

Been watching and playing golf since the early 80s and generally still stuck in this period. Huge fan of all things Robert Rock, less so white belts. Handicap of 8, fragile mind and short game

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