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'A Sea Of Golf Experts Turn Up For Majors': Irish Caddy Colin Byrne On McIlroy Caddy Criticism

'A Sea Of Golf Experts Turn Up For Majors': Irish Caddy Colin Byrne On McIlroy Caddy Criticism
By Conor Neville Updated

People are casting around scapegoats for Rory McIlroy's latest failure to win at Augusta. Typically, in golf, the search for a scapegoat doesn't go beyond the golfer himself.

It seems that Jordan Spieth, with his 'Team Spieth' rhetoric, and his persistent use of the words 'we' and 'us', has fostered a greater respect for the profession of caddying.

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But with that respect has come greater scrutiny. Rory McIlroy's caddy JP Fitzgerald has been subject to criticism for his performance over the Augusta weekend.

Some viewers believed he wasn't interventionist or vocal enough his advice to his player. His failure to step in before McIlroy made a mess of his risky approach shot to the 11th.

Speaking on Off the Ball tonight, the BBC's Andrew Cotter said that Steve Williams or Bones Mackay (Mickelson's caddy) would have intervened with a more conservative option.

We spoke to Irish caddy Colin Byrne, who was on the bag for Retief Goosen when he won his second US Open in 2004  and worked by Goosen's countryman Ernie Els until a few weeks ago (he wasn't there for that horror show last Thursday thankfully).


He offered a more nuanced and measured perspective on the McIlroy-Fitzgerald relationship. There are a lot of dynamics at play.

Well, there's a sea of golf experts who turn up for the Majors. These guys are caddying all the time. They've obviously a great relationship. It's very hard for anyone, particularly at Augusta because no one can inside the ropes, to make that call.

I don't know if it's fact, or just assumption, that just because you don't see something said on television that he's not actually offering his advice.

I think one of the basic things about any caddy-player relationship is the caddy advises and the player decides.

Byrne says it is dependent on the relationship between the two players. Sometimes a players demands a huge amount of input from their caddy and sometimes they prefer the caddy to adopt a minimalist approach.

Obviously, some people think JP Fitzgerald isn't advising enough. I don't really know what the relationship is like. There are so many different variations of wonderful relationships from Jordan Spieth and his caddy Michael who have a long, long dialogue, a bit like Jim Makcay with Phil Mickelson. They seem to want to know the air temperature and the moisture in the grass. Incredible detail. Which is relevant to them because it helps them make a decision.

To some players like, for example, I worked for Retief Goosen who, I always described my role as minimalist. But if he did ask a question you had to have an answer and hopefully it was right.

A lot of players have different ideas of what they want.

I certainly think in the modern era there's a lot of over-caddying going on. Now, that's debatable as well and I stand to be corrected on that and the two examples I've given (Mickelson and Spieth) are very effective relationships. Sure, people might think he (Fitzgerald) he could say more, but sometimes less is more. Maybe that's JP's approach. Maybe, that's what Rory wants. The thing about saying something when you caddy, you better be right, because it can have a huge influence. Maybe JP felt like he'd nothing to say to improve the situation.

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Read more: A Week In The Incredibly Cushy Retired Life Of Alex Ferguson

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