Article by Golf Monthly - Feb 2009
We spoke to Ronan’s boss to get his take on what makes him the right man for the job, especially when the heat is on. Here’s what he told us...
I’m looking for a caddie who’ll give me his opinion and believe in it. Ronan does that. Not that his opinion has to be right – just that he believes and trusts it, will give it to you and isn’t just agreeing with you for the sake of it, I don’t want a yes man. I want someone with an opinion who can accept that he’s given it in good faith whether it’s right or wrong. I don’t want a caddie who starts sulking if he gets it wrong. Every short I hit, I kow I’m trying; if I hit a bad shot, I know I was trying It’s the same with a caddie; if he gives you the wrong club it wasn’t for lack of effort.
Ronan’s good at saying the right thing at the right time on the course. He won me The Open at Carnoustie. When I hit the second ball into the water I was spiralling downhill. I was devastated; I felt embarrassed; I felt like I’d choked, But for 150 yards there was a diatribe coming out of his mouth and by the end of it I believed him and was back in the zone. But when we talked about it afterwards, he said, ‘yeah, I thought we’d lost the Open too!’ Actually there were a few more expletives. But he never let on. So his job is to be the sport psychologist out on the course and he’s brilliant at it.
He takes a big responsibility off-course too. For example –when I won the first Open I said,’ do you think I can get away with signing just Paddy?” and I got a seven-day lecture about how it should be my full signature; that if he was a little kid and I signed something Paddy and it wasn’t legible or anything like that, he wouldn’t be happy: “Take your time and if it means you can’t sign them all, that’s fine. But do it properly.’ He’s very principled. If I go down the wrong track he’ll say, ‘it’s your choice but I’m just letting you know what I think.’
CRITICAL SHOTS AT BIRKDALE
The 3-wood into 15 and 5-wood into 17 were definitely team decisions. On 15 it was straightforward – 3 wood; take the shot on; play the shot. On the 17th he could see I wanted to hit 5-wood and cleared everything up for me. He gave me all the information and wanted me to be comfortable I had that information. Once I had it, and I’d given him a reason for taking it on, he then switched to, ‘okay, this is what we’re going to do; this is the shot.’ So he’ll give me his opinion, but once I pick a shot he then commits to my shot, He’s not going to stand there saying,’ you should be doing this instead,’ He did intervene and say, ‘look, we can lay this up’, and it’s important for a caddie to be able to do that – but to do it in such a way that if I stick with the wood shot I’m totally committed to it.