By Bernie McGuire in Saudi.
Being a caddy to a professional golfer whether male or female is not an easy job as it’s widely known in the trade that if a player is not competing at their best, the first to be sacked is the caddy.
Just ask Bo Martin, who has just been recently sacked by Open Championship winning Shane Lowry.
Well there is a new player/caddy partnership clearly hitting it off at this week’s opening event on the Asian Tour, the Saudi International.
Paul and Pollyanna Casey teamed on day one of the $US5m to grab a chip-in eagle ‘2’ at the 10th hole along with four birdies in an opening two-under 70 on the bright but continually windy opening round on the Royal Greens course laid-out along the Red Sea.
Casey left the course with comments such as ‘My caddy was just great out there today’ and ‘she has to be the best bunker-raker on the Tour’ and all the time smiling and laughing with his wife of some seven-years.
Woodward, her maiden name, and Casey met at the 2011 Abu Dhabi F1 Grand Prix where she was co-presenting the Chequered Flag Ball with Eddie Jordan. Woodward is also a former presenter from 2010 to 2013 of BBC TVs ‘The Gadget Show’, and had a strong history working in TV.
At the time, Casey and Woodward were each rebuilding their lives after divorce, with upheaval in Casey’s life along with injury, reflected in a downturn in his golf game.
Two years later in June 2013 Casey credited Woodward with helping him to end a more than two-year winless drought in capturing the Irish Open by three strokes at Carton House. During the Christmas Festive season that year the duo announced their engagement.
In September 2014, their son Lex (named after Lex Luther from comic book fame) was born ahead of the couple getting married in January 2015. They now have two children with a daughter born in 2017.
Not long after his marriage to Woodward, Casey began a new caddy relationship with fellow Englishman John ‘Long Socks’ McLaren that lasted until October 2021, with McLaren stepping down from caddying citing the mental strains of transatlantic travel during Covid-19
To fill that sizeable gap, Casey turned first to New Zealander Tim Butler, then to a more familiar face – Australian Shannon Willis. McLaren was back at Casey’s side early in 2022 however after last year’s Saudi International in October, McLaren returned home needing hospital care, so he took another break.
And while McLaren was seen working at the last two DP World Tour events in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, caddying for Luke Donald, with whom he had worked for some time, Casey is keeping the caddying duties at present in the family.
“Polly is a great caddy and we’ve been getting along famously on the golf course,” said Casey.
This journalist then asked Casey if it is to be a permanent relationship but clarifying the question by stating, ‘I meant relationship caddy-wise’, with Pollyanna, who was standing within earshot of her husband, bursting into laughter saying: “We’ll see!”
“No, no, no as you will see Johnny Mc (McLaren) back out here because when we were out here last October for the LIV event, it was then he got sick and he ended-up in hospital, so it was a really rough week,” Casey said.
“So, I was not about to ask him to come back to caddy for me this week but given it would not be good memories for him coming back to Saudi, I thought better of it.
“Besides Polly has done some caddying for me at our golf club in Arizona while she was brilliant out there today.”
Casey tees-up this week for a first time with a scorecard in his back pocket since November 11th last year when he revealed he finished runner-up in a team event to fellow pro golfer, Ricky Barnes, his partner in a club tournament at the Whisper Rock Club in Scottsdale, Arizona.
“I played alright but that was the last time I had a scorecard with me,” he said.
“It was a great break as it was probably the first time in two to three years I probably had a proper winter. We went skiing up in Flagstaff but then I’ve also worked hard in these last three weeks before coming here to Saudi.
“So, while I’ve had plenty of social golf but playing tournament golf, well this is my first tournament for a long time. It’s also one of the reasons for joining LIV to have more time, and I have not had that time off as before there was always something you were getting ready for.”
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