The Open: On-off bagman Ricci Roberts insists he always believed his man could win
Ernie Els’ long-time caddie Ricci Roberts insists people were wrong to write off the 42-year-old after he took his major tally to four with a second Open title ten years after his first.
And he suggested the South African’s triumph at Royal Lytham – which added another Claret Jug to the one he won at Muirfield and his two US Open victories – would embarrass officials at Augusta.
Having dropped down the world rankings Els did not receive an invitation to the Masters for the first time in 19 years. Roberts, who has had numerous break-ups with the Johannesburg-born golfer but has been on the bag for all his major wins, said that hurt and winning The Open was a perfect response to the critics.
“I think everyone else doubted it. There were all saying he was past his best and he doesn’t really have the desire any more,” said Roberts, whose advice helped Els dramatically overcome overnight leader Adam Scott.
“They can all think again because this boy is far from finished. I’ve spent a lot of time with him and I don’t think people understand how many hours he puts in, this guy works harder than anyone, and he wanted it more than anyone else.
“This is unbelievable considering they didn’t give him an invite to Augusta. . . I think this will make those guys think a little bit now.
“He was gutted. A player of his calibre. The golf ambassador he has been and, even more so, the way he was playing going into Augusta. They have their rules and regulations and they work by those but I think it was sad he didn’t get in.
“But this is amazing. I am so happy for him. Even though you have all these young guys out here he is still one of the top players in the world – the difference is he can now make a putt and shoot low numbers.”
Only on Saturday Els said he had rediscovered some belief and felt “something special could happen”.
A tearful Roberts said he got a similar feeling having taken a look at the links – where the South African has finished joint second and joint third on The Open’s last two visits – a few weeks ago.
“I always fancied his chances here because in the past we have played well and we’ve come second and third before,” added Roberts. “I came out here three weeks ago and I took one look at this golf course and said to Ernie, ‘This is right up your alley mate’.”
On their up-and-down on-off working relationship Roberts, who was re-employed a year or so ago, said: “We’ve had more divorces than Liz Taylor and Richard Burton but I always thought another major win was in him, else I wouldn’t have gone back.
“I’ve worked for this guy for 20 years and I know him inside out, I know the way his mind works, I know his mood swings, I just guess we have good chemistry. That is win 58 for me with him so I guess something must be good.”
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Weather for Edinburgh
Saturday 18 May 2013
Temperature: 9 C to 13 C
Wind Speed: 18 mph
Wind direction: North east
Temperature: 9 C to 18 C
Wind Speed: 8 mph
Wind direction: North east