PRESTWICK’S Mark Crane reckons he’s landed a live chance of caddying in this year’s Ryder Cup after being hired by two-times Gleneagles winner Paul Casey.
Crane, who was on Richie Ramsay’s bag for more than four years, started his new job in the opening round of the Volvo Golf Champions after receiving a phone call out of the blue from the Englishman.
It’s an exciting opportunity for the 31-year-old, who already has a wedding date pencilled in for September and reckons Gleneagles would be a perfect honeymoon location. “Paul phoned me up and we had a chat,” said Crane, who had a spell with another Englishman, David Horsey, after ending an association with Ramsay that had produced two European Tour triumphs.
“I think he liked the way I spoke and that’s probably because I’m no different to him – I want to be a winner in this game. You want to caddie in Ryder Cups and be in contention in majors. He’s on the same wavelength and I think I can learn a lot from him.”
The new partnership didn’t get off to the best of starts as a pulled approach at the first, coupled with a bad kick, resulted in a double-bogey 6, but the duo both had smiles on their face as Casey finished birdie-birdie for a level-par 72.
“I’ve heard stories that Paul is demanding and quite hard to work for, but you’ve got to be prepared for that in this business,” added Crane, who got the taste for caddying at the top level when he was on Lloyd Saltman’s bag as he won the Silver Medal in the 2005 Open at St Andrews
“He’s gone through a few bad spells but most top players have those and it’s how you react to them and come back that’s the important thing. He’s in a good place in his life right now, having just got engaged (to TV presenter Pollyanna Woodward) and also feeling injury free. It’s a fresh start for both of us.”
Casey, who played on two victorious European Ryder Cup teams in 2004 and 2006, returned to winning ways in last year’s Irish Open. Lying outside the world’s top 50, he faces a difficult task to qualify automatically for Paul McGinley’s team. But, having recorded two wins on the PGA Centenary Course – in 2001 and 2006 – Crane believes his new boss could emerge as a genuine wild-card contender.
“Having done a bit of studying after I got the job, I know that Paul has a great Ryder Cup record and that, coupled with the fact he’s won twice at Gleneagles, must give him a chance if he can be on form when the picks are being handed out,” he said. “I’m getting married on 21 September – the Sunday before the Ryder Cup – and a Gleneagles honeymoon would be incredible!”