The rules in being a caddy are simple – turn-up, shut-up and keep-up.
Dave McNeilly knows that only too well but the affable Belfast golfer has gone one better upon talking of his ‘split-up’ with England’s fiery Matt Wallace.
Wallace and McNeilly have gone their separate ways following the recent WGC – FedEx St. Jude Invitational in Memphis.
The writing was clearly on the wall given the verbal abuse McNeilly was getting at the hands of Wallace, with this journalist hearing first-hand a tongue lashing he got from the Englishman at The Open.
The duo did get on superbly for four European Tour wins but their time together – particularly latterly – was marred by controversy. In June, Wallace was widely condemned for what some described as aggressive behaviour towards 67-year-old McNeilly after blowing a chance to win the BMW International Open in Munich.
But in speaking to BBC TV Northern Ireland, McNeilly was not about to ‘drop’ Wallace in it.
“I’m not saying, ‘poor old me. I’ve been scapegoated’,” said McNeilly. “You have got to take responsibility for your part in it.
“The reason why I enjoyed working for Matt Wallace was because of that fire. It’s a caddie’s dream to have a player who is going to give you his all.”
McNeilly’s reputation as a top caddie precedes him, having worked with the likes of Sir Nick Faldo, Nick Price and Padraig Harrington.
However, he accepts that he did make some mistakes during his time on Wallace’s bag.
“This just isn’t all about Matt Wallace,” he added. “I have to be able to learn the right words to say to him which are not going to fan those flames and keep giving him messages which are going to keep him focused.
“And maybe an area where I wasn’t so good was that I didn’t set boundaries down to Matt and say, ‘no, you’re not going to cross a line in the sand’ [in terms of losing his temper]. I was more focused on trying to make it work.”
McNeilly added that the pair parted on good terms after the WGC-FedEx St Jude Invitational earlier this month.
“There wasn’t a reason but if there was a reason it would have been more like, he didn’t like the way he was behaving towards me on the golf course,” he said.
Well done, Dave. A true professional