There’s no-one more equipped to deliver the verbal equivalent of a kick up the backside than your better half. Just ask David Drysdale, who reckons his promising start to the new European Tour season has been helped by his wife, Vicky, ticking him off occasionally out on the course in her new role as the Cockburnspath man’s caddie.
“She is doing great,” said Drysdale, who heads into this week’s Omega Dubai Desert Classic sitting 30th in the Race to Dubai after beginning his 13th straight season holding full playing privileges for the circuit by making five cuts in succession. “She’s had six tournaments on the bag in total, and we’ve had four top 20s and not missed a cut. She is confident. She kicks my arse at times, which is good.”
As recently, in fact, as last week’s Qatar Masters. The 41-year-old was in danger of missing the cut after a three-putt bogey at the 15th in the second round in Doha before a timely pep talk from Vicky helped him make it to the weekend. “His head was completely off and I am sure the fact I know him so well helped him make the cut,” she said.
It was Funny Sunesson, of course, who proved that caddying shouldn’t necessarily be a male-only domain as the Swede helped Nick Faldo win four of his six majors. More recently, Janet Squire, has caddied for various European Tour players, including former Scottish Open champion Jeev Milkha Singh and her current boss, Alejandro Canizares, while Lee Westwood’s girlfriend, Helen Storey, picked up the Englishman’s bag in Abu Dhabi a fortnight ago after his regular caddie, Billy Foster, returned home following the death of his father.
“I think caddies can be a bit scared to give you a kick up the backside when you get a little bit down or become p***ed off about something because you are paying their wages. Vicky’s not and that’s good,” said Drysdale, who has offers on the table from experienced male caddies wanting to work for him but sees no real reason to be rushed into a decision.
“I’ve played this game long enough to know how to caddie for myself,” he insisted. “I know how far I hit it and there’s also no indecision there at the moment, which can sometimes be the case when you are taking advice from someone who doesn’t know your game as well as you do. In the last few weeks I feel my clubbing has been really good, especially over some half shots that I’ve hit stone dead. I may take someone in Malaysia next week as it is not even fun to walk in the heat out there far less carry a golf bag, but I’ve not decided anything yet long term and it’s great that Vicky and I have no problems distancing ourselves from golf when we are out for dinner.”
Having travelled full-time with her husband over the past ten years and rarely missed a single shot he’s hit in that time, Vicky is no stranger to European Tour life. She admits that moving from outside to inside the ropes has been an eye-opening experience, though.
“I now realise why he might hit an indifferent shot or miss a putt. I used to think, ‘how the hell did you do this or that’ but not any more,” she said, laughing. “While I just started to play myself this year, I’m from a golf family as my dad and my brothers all play. It has been great for David to teach me all the yardages and what I need to be doing out on the course. I’m also getting on OK with the big tour bag at the moment, though it will be a bit harder when I have to put an umbrella and all the waterproof gear in it.
“I pretty much manage David, having travelled with him since leaving my job with a pharmaceutical company in Ormiston. I’m his wife, his manager and his caddie at the moment. I saw that Lee Westwood’s girlfriend had caddied for him in Abu Dhabi, so maybe the girls are taking over.”
While Drysdale’s first few seasons as a European Tour player invariably ended with a return to the Qualifying School, he’s finished in the top 100 in the Race to Dubai in six of the last eight years. It’s early days, of course, but, on the back of that promising start, he is feeling quietly confident that a career-best 48th on the money-list, achieved in 2009, might even be eclipsed this season. “I’ve played some good stuff for probably two-and-a-half rounds of the four I’ve played in my events so far this year,” he said, acknowledging that his game, especially in terms of ball-striking, has come on leaps and bounds in the six years he’s worked with Jamie Gough, brother of the former Rangers, Tottenham Hotspur and Scotland defender, Richard.
“Really good stuff, in fact. Last week, for example, I hit 16 greens in the first round and 17 in the second round but shot 71 on both occasions, which isn’t good. With that sort of standard of striking over four days, though, I wouldn’t even need to putt that well to have a chance. If I could get it altogether, I’d have a chance of competing, which is the plan.”
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