From Prestwick to Paris. Mark Crane’s journey as a caddie started in his hometown in Ayrshire and now he’s set to be in the thick of the action in a Ryder Cup close to the French capital carrying Tyrrell Hatton’s bag.
This is Crane’s second taste of the event, having been at the side of another Englishman, Chris Wood, at Hazeltine two years ago. Both Paul Lawrie and Sam Torrance were part of the backroom team on that occasion. This time around, Crane is the sole Scot at the heart of things.
“I’m looking forward to it,” said the 36-year-old, who caddied for Lloyd Saltman when he won the Silver Medal as leading amateur in the 2005 Open Championship at St Andrews and also had a lengthy spell with another of his compatriots, Richie Ramsay.
“I always felt I would be able to get here (involved in one of the biggest events in golf), and I always wanted to get here. But the fact you are here you can’t take it for granted. I’m very lucky to be here, you look at a lot of my friends who are still caddying at Prestwick and I’ve come so far.
“Which has been due to my start with Lloyd, then Richie, and I’ll never forget that. But, at the end of the day, you make your own luck, you put the hard work in, and I think I’m a very good caddie. I’m always working to get better and learning, and I think I deserve to be here. But you have to stay humble.”
He was reminded of that when he shared a car back from the course to Versailles, where the players and caddies are staying this week, albeit in different hotels, earlier in the week with Rory McIlroy. “He’s showing me things on his phone and I’m showing him stuff,” added Crane, who had Craig Connolly, who was on Martin Kaymer’s bag at the time, for company in 2016 but not this time around.
“You couldn’t believe it and your mates back home wouldn’t believe it, you’re just sitting there or walking into the hotel and (Celtic’s majority shareholder) Dermot Desmond says ‘hello’. You were just a wee caddie at Prestwick and you can’t forget that, but you’ve come a long way. You might never get back. This could be the last, but hopefully not.”
Crane picked up Hatton’s bag earlier in the year, jumping at the chance to join forces with the double Dunhill Links winner. He knew all about the Englishman having a fiery temper but reckons they complement each other out on the course.
“I think I’ve got to stay cool, don’t I,” said Crane, smiling, of his role this week. “He’s a bit crackers at times, which he’ll admit, but there’s no point in us both being crackers, so I try to be laid back and be a calming influence on him.
“He wants the best, he’s not been on tour so long, he’s maturing and he’s still a young guy. But he is what he is, that’s what got him here so you can’t take that fire out of his belly. He goes through his routine and that gets his best golf, who cares so long as we win that trophy on Sunday.”
Crane’s job will be helping his man pick the right clubs and say the right things at the right time. “We can put in a little five per cent here and there and hopefully make a difference, but no caddie is bigger than the player,” he said. “You always remember that the players are the big wheel.”