By Bernie McGuire in Saudi.
A player and caddy relationship is so much like a marriage. Each needs to work in unison to make it work.
Take Paul Casey and Johnny ‘Long Sock’s McLaren with the duo now going their separate ways but not because of a bust-up in their ‘marriage’. No, nothing could be further from the truth with the duo calling it time with the 55-year-old McLaren, who was the long-time caddy for Luke Donald, wishing now to spend more time with his young family.
Together the Casey & McLaren pairing won back-to-back Valspar Championships in 2018 and 2019. On the European Tour, they won the 2019 Porsche European Open and last fortnight defended their 2021 Dubai Desert Classic title. Ryder Cup-wise they were a part of the winning 2018 European Team and also last year’s losing side at Whistling Straits.
The pair have called it quits for the foreseeable future. They said their face-to-face goodbyes with a Saudi International closing round 64 for a two-under tally and a share of 24th place.
“The accumulation of the last 18 months of travel, the testing, the uncertainty has taken its toll, not only on me, but how I am at home with my family,” said McLaren late last year.
“And once that starts to have an impact on my young children and my wife, whom I very much love, then the questions start to arise about the sacrifices relative to what needs to be gained.
“Each weekend I’d be sitting basically with my fingers crossed, hoping that I was going to test negative so that I could get home.
“And then the flip of that, obviously when I got home, I’d have to do more tests and isolating at home, et cetera, while planning to come back to work for Paul, thinking, well now I hope I don’t test positive with my family and children because then that’s then going to make Paul’s life not as comfortable and easy because he’s not certain his caddie is going to make it back.”
Casey was slightly emotional in saying: “Today was Johnny’s last official round till he takes a sabbatical and a 64 so a good round to finish on.
“He will still work for me at the Porsche European Open (June 2-5), so it’s not like he’s fully retiring, so he’s not receiving a gold watch or anything (smiling).
“The best thing about the two of us is that we are better mates now than at any point, and let’s be honest here as when any player says ‘we are taking a break from working together’, it’s a code for something like you got fired or the relationship has fallen out.
“You know what, of all the caddies I have worked with, and I have shouted at a lot and they’ve also probably wanted to give me, well you can imagine (smiling), I am still very friendly with every caddie who has ever worked for me. I would like to think that reflects how I have got on with the caddies I’ve had on the bag.
“That’s different to a lot of the relationships I have seen in my time out here.
“The thing is also, and it’s a fact, that the players do spend more time with the caddie more than their own family. Of course, that’s bad as you would like to spend more time with your family.
“The thing is Johnny has been on holiday with myself and my family, and it means we are comfortable in each other’s company. It’s not always conducive but it has worked for Johnny and I.”
Enjoy the break Johnnie – you’ve earned it.