CORKMAN Pat Cashman, 65, was enjoying a relaxing day off at the golf when he was suddenly thrust into the thick of the tournament action alongside Padraig Harrington.
In a dramatic train of events which would leave other amateur golfers pinching themselves in disbelief, the Corkman stepped in for Harrington's caddie when he became ill during the second round of the €4m Volvo Champions at Durban Country Club, South Africa.
"I'm only down here on holidays," said Cashman, a professional golf photographer who's known Harrington for 35 years and is a member of the same Dublin club (Hermitage) as stricken caddie Ronan Flood.
Though he'd never caddied before, Cashman, who has a 14-handicap, stepped into the breach when Flood was overcome by a stomach bug and dehydration. He described the experience as a thrill to match the two holes-in-one he has had.
Flood put down his brother-in-law's bag on the sixth fairway and slumped to the ground under a copse of trees.
"Ronan turned the colour of that," said Cashman, pointing to Harrington's white golf bag. "He asked me if I'd take the bag and I said I would. Then a replacement was sent out but Padraig said, 'look Pat, if you're happy to continue, do so by all means'.
"I've never gone through anything like that on a golf course," said Flood. "I just felt so sick, all I wanted to do was lie down. The doctor thinks it's something I ate and that I was dehydrated as a result of not being able to keep any water down."
As Flood was removed to the tournament medical centre, Cashman received a few quick words of advice on caddying from Harrington.
"He double-bogeyed the eighth soon after I took over," Cashman grinned, "but nothing was said. You know Padraig, he's so nice, it was a lovely day."
Harrington was delighted with the novice caddie, saying: "I suppose the fact that he'd photographed golf over the years, Pat knew exactly where, when and for what he was needed. So it was excellent out there."
Dr Ross Chourier examined Flood and gave him an injection to relieve nausea; he then fell into a deep sleep and was released later in the day. Dr Chourier said he expected him to recover overnight and be able to take part in tomorrow's third round.
Harrington was thankful that Cashman -- "a friend of ours and a photographer when I was growing up in Ireland" -- was there: "I see him out here every year", and added that he'd be happy to have him back on his bag at the weekend, if required.
"I'd say he'd love to go for it. Sometimes when people step in like that, they stand at the side of the green and carry the bag but it wasn't like that with Pat.
"He was doing pins and whatever needed to be done and got stronger as the round went on," said the Dubliner, before taking Cashman by the arm and saying: "C'mon, I've got to buy this man a pint!"