Four-time major winner Ernie Els led a flood of tributes today for Dave Renwick, the legendary Scottish caddie who has died after a year-long battle with cancer.
The 62-year-old from East Calder, known in the game as ‘Buddy’, won five majors with three different players - three with Vijay Singh and one each with Jose Maria Olazabal and Steve Elkington.
News of Renwick’s death cast a shadow over the Omega Dubai Desert Classic during its first round at The Emirates Golf Club.
“I knew Dave very well,” said Els after carding a four-under-par 68 to sit two shots off the lead, held by Swede Alexander Noren. “Even when I came out on Tour as a youngster, he was a legend as both a caddie and a person.
“Davie and I had lots of great times together. Whether we were in the US, Europe or Asia, he was a very good friend of mine.
“When he caddied for Jose and Vijay, we played so many practice rounds together. Myself and Vijay were both competing at a really high level in those days and Dave was on his bag. He was a great guy and a very straightforward man. There was no hiding.”
Els, who wore a black ribbon during his round as a mark of respect for Renwick, added: “He was a man of few words until you got him going. He led by example the way he caddked and carried himself. He was just a fantastic guy.”
Renwick, who turned to caddying after a spell as a rigger in the North Sea, landed his first major when Olazabal won The Masters in 1994.
He then carried Elkington’s bag as the Australian claimed the 1995 US PGA Championship at Riviera in Los Angeles, beating Colin Montgomerie in a play-off.
But his best spell came with Singh, who won the US PGA in 1998 then again in 2004 with a Masters triumph sandwiched in between in 2000 when the pair worked together.
“Dave was always a good guy to be around - I always enjoyed his company,” said winning Ryder Cup captain Sam Torrance, who is commentating on the event in the United Arab Emirates . “He never worked with me, but he was a good caddie and did a great job for Vijay. He will be missed.”
Phil ‘Wobbly’ Morbley, who helped Ian Woosnam win The Masters in 1991, added: “Dave had a phenomenal record and that shows what a great caddie he was.
“I’ve known him since he first started caddying for Jose Maria Olazabal out in Switzerland and myself and Billy Foster went to see him when we were in Scotland for the Dunhill Links last October.
“He was definitely what you’d call an old-school caddie and, like a lot of us, he liked to join the guys for a few bevvies.
“He was a funny man, too, and he will be sorely missed. We will all be thinking about him today.”
Damian Moore, Stephen Gallacher’s caddie, added: “Dave helped me settle in when I moved to East Calder and introduced me to all the lads in the local pub.
“He’s been a huge figure in Scottish golf and should probably get a place in the Hall of Fame.
“He was trying to hang on to either get to the Cheltenham Festival or see Rangers getting back into the Premier League. Sadly, he didn’t live long enough for either, but he put up some fight over the past few months.”
Renwick quit as Olazabal’s caddie as he felt he wasn’t being paid enough, though he was grateful to the Spaniard for keeping his job open after he spent time in jail following a car crash when he was at the wheel that saw two fellow caddies die.
The Scot received $100,000 - nearly 25 per cent of the winner’s cheque - from Elkington afrer his major breakthrough and also caddied for Lee Westwood, Graeme McDowell, Adam Scott, Thorjborn Olesen, Graeme Storm, Gareth Maybin and Ricardo Gonzalez.
He ended his European Tour career with fellow Scot Chris Doak before having a short spell with K J Choi on the PGA Tour last season prior to being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.
“Five majors with three different players and 40-odd tournament wins - Dave is easily Scotland’s most successful caddie,” said friend and colleague Davy Kenny.
“The thing that made him stick out was that he was a character - there was nobody like him. There’s nobody said more than what they thought than Dave.
“As a friend, he’d do anything for you. He’d give you his last fiver. That was him - he was a legend as a friend and a caddie.”
Kenny, who works for Paul Lawrie, added: “I knew of Dave before I first came out on Tour. As soon as I met him we instantly became friends. There were no airs and graces with Dave.
“He took me under his wing a bit and anything I needed to know or wanted, he was there to offer me advice.
“His wife took August off work as he was told that he could die within a week or two around that time. He actually pepped up a bit after that and put up a great fight.
“But that was Dave to a T - he was stubborn as hell. He would never give in and that was shown in his character.”