Book Of The Week: Carrying the bag and the can

How We Won The Ryder Cup - The Caddies' Stories by Norman Dabell (Mains tream, pounds 15.99)
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The Independent Online
The clue is in the title. The caddie never loses an Open Championship or a Ryder Cup match - then it is "him". Come the glory and the bagman wants his share. This book is a sequel to Dabell's "How We Won The Open", and, like the first, is a visit inside the ropes that is worth making.

The caddie is a hard man to categorise. With some golfers he carries the bag, the can and little more. What is his importance if Europe can record arguably their finest Ryder Cup victory, at Muirfield Village in 1987, when four of the bagmen were not regular caddies at all? Yet, in the same match, it is Andy Prodger, Nick Faldo's caddie who gets his man and Ian Woosnam going in the foursomes. "We're going to win this match," he said on the 10th tee and his confidence spread.

The book cannot afford the lengthy examination of the relationship between golfer and gofer that is the Open book's strength - it would rival the length of War and Peace if it did - but it does provide an alternative view to some of the Cup's great moments since Europe became more than equal partners in the biennial battle for supremacy across the Atlantic in 1985.

A personal favourite among many anecdotes is provided by Guy Tillson, Eamonn Darcy's caddie at Muirfield Village, who shares his employer's agonies as Ben Crenshaw comes back at the Irishman despite smashing his putter in a fit of pique. So much for "Gentle Ben" and so much for Darcy's composure as he goes behind in the match at the 16th for the first time since the first hole.

"Psychologically that must have been a terrible blow," Tillson says, "and I guess it might have finished plenty of players, especially against a man with no putter and knowing what we knew from the scoreboard on how the team were in trouble. We were three up an hour or so ago. They guy's got no putter. It's a crunch match. We're hurting pretty bad and Darcy must feel awful".

It is is Tillson who measures the adrenalin that is racing through Darcy's blood and who deliberately under clubs him at the 17th to compensate. It proves the master stroke, wins a hole and Darcy delivers the point that takes the Cup.

It is entirely appropriate for the tenuous link between the golfer and his man that Tillson and Darcy almost parted company almost immediately at the far lower-key Dunhill Cup and the break became permanent a few weeks later. As for Prodger, he ended up in an American jail on the trip back from Kiawah Island for about as fatuous a comment as you could make in an airport. That, as they say, is another caddie's story.

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