Sport Golf

Monday 21 October 2019

Portrush man hits the jackpot again

US PGA champion Brooks Koepka celebrates with caddie Ricky Elliott on the 18th. Photo: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
US PGA champion Brooks Koepka celebrates with caddie Ricky Elliott on the 18th. Photo: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Brian Keogh

Irish golf can claim a small role in Brooks Koepka's rise from Challenge Tour player to multiple Major champion with Portrush caddie Ricky Elliott a key part of his team.

Elliott (42) grew up in Portrush alongside close pal and 2010 US Open winner Graeme McDowell, winning a host of Boys titles in a stellar amateur career before heading to the University of Toledo on a golf scholarship.

He tried mini tour golf for a few years before taking an assistant professional's post at exclusive Lake Nona in Orlando and eventually moving on to caddying for Dutchman Maarten Lafeber.

From there he progressed to 2003 Open champion Ben Curtis but it was only by chance that he took Koepka's bag for the 2013 US PGA at Oak Hill and the American has since won $26 million on the PGA Tour alone.

"He had just come off the Challenge Tour - the lad who was caddying for him couldn't come to America - and his coach Claude Harmon asked if I wanted to come and caddie for this lad in the PGA," Elliott explained.

"It was the first time I had ever caddied for someone in a Major, and I said 'absolutely'.

"The first practice we played I just thought, 'This guy is the real deal, he is hitting the ball unbelievable.' And I just held on to him. It wasn't a hard decision!"

McDowell played a role in persuading Elliott to take on Koepka and he believes the happy-go-lucky Ulsterman is the perfect foil for the hard-nosed Floridian.

Irish Independent

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