FANNY – STILL THE BENCH­MARK

It has been seven years since golf’s most fa­mous fe­male cad­die, Fanny Sunes­son, looped a golf bag for the fi­nal time. Here, she re­flects on her amaz­ing ca­reer in­side the ropes and re­veals she hasn’t been idle in re­tire­ment.

Golf Australia - - CONTENTS - WORDS PAUL PREN­DER­GAST PHO­TOG­RA­PHY GETTY IMAGES

It has been seven years since golf’s most fa­mous fe­male cad­die, Fanny Sunes­son, looped a golf bag for the fi­nal time. Here, she re­flects on her amaz­ing ca­reer and re­veals she hasn’t been idle in re­tire­ment.

Un­like just about ev­ery other sport you can con­tem­plate, it’s not only the play­ers in the game of golf who ex­pe­ri­ence a level of celebrity and are recog­nised the world over. There are a hand­ful of those who have car­ried their bags who are as well known, if not more, than many play­ers in the field at any given event.

Many in the modern era are so fa­mil­iar to us that they’re known sim­ply by their first or nick­name: Jim ‘Bones’ Mackay – Phil Mick­el­son’s long-time cad­die un­til re­cently; and of course ‘Ste­vie’ Wil­liams – Nor­man, Floyd, Scott and most fa­mously, Tiger Woods; are fig­ures recog­nis­able to most.

English­man Chris Pais­ley’s re­cent hot hand early in the 2018 Euro­pean Tour sea­son, high­lighted by his win at the BMW South African Open, was es­pe­cially heart-warm­ing as he shared the mo­ment, cheek and jowl, with his wife Keri who was fill­ing in on the bag for the week.

Keri no doubt claimed a higher win­ning bonus than the stan­dard player/cad­die ar­range­ment af­ter help­ing her hus­band su­press the for­mi­da­ble chal­lenge of Bran­den Grace on the fi­nal day. To­gether, they forged a mem­ory bank en­try to boast to their grand­kids about for years to come.

Fe­male cad­dies on Tour are a more reg­u­lar oc­cur­rence on the LPGA and Ladies Euro­pean Tours than in years past, although num­bers re­main thin on the men’s tours. With few ex­cep­tions, those that pop up do so for a week here and there on their hus­band’s bag or un­til a more per­ma­nent ar­range­ment is forged.

Jus­tine Reed has done the heavy lift­ing for her hus­band Pa­trick, from PGA Tour Q-School to vic­tory at the 2013 Wyn­d­ham Cham­pi­onship; and over in Europe, Janet Squire stands out among Tour reg­u­lars hav­ing cad­died most no­tably for In­dia’s Jeev Milka Singh over many years. None how­ever, be­fore or since, can hold a can­dle to the woman un­sur­passed as the great­est of all in her co­hort, also in­stantly recog­nis­able purely and sim­ply by her first name…Fanny. Fanny Sunes­son re­tired from the cad­dieing ca­per in 2011 but not be­fore es­tab­lish­ing a legacy that most male or fe­male cad­dies could only dream of. The Swede also looped for Howard Clark, Fred Funk, Mark Hensby, Michelle Wie, Ser­gio Gar­cia and Hen­rik Sten­son in her time,

but it’s her part­ner­ship with Sir Nick Faldo dur­ing the Brit’s era as the world’s best player in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s that she’s most fondly re­mem­bered.

Those years on the Faldo bag in­cluded four Ma­jor wins, umpteen Tour vic­to­ries and nu­mer­ous Ry­der Cup ap­pear­ances.

Sunes­son might be out­side-the-ropes now but re­mains in­cred­i­bly ac­tive within the game through a range of ac­tiv­i­ties in­clud­ing com­men­tary, coach­ing, tour­na­ment host­ing and soon, course de­sign.

I’ve seen first-hand that one of your con­tem­po­raries, Bones Mackay, seems to get more shout outs from the gallery as a course an­nouncer these days than most play­ers. Do you still at­tract that sort of at­ten­tion when you’re around golf cour­ses?

Yeah, if I’m at a tour­na­ment, def­i­nitely. I al­ways think that the player is the star but, I guess it was Nick that said to me in the be­gin­ning that, ‘If peo­ple get a kick out of get­ting your au­to­graph, why should I say no?’

It’s nice but, it’s sort of weird as well. I think the player is the star, not me, but it’s cool if it makes some­one happy. Your record sug­gests you’re one of the best cad­dies, pe­riod, but you’re by far and away the most pre-em­i­nent fe­male cad­die ever. How does that stature sit with you?

There’s a lot of good cad­dies out there but they’re not of­ten as well known or with a high pro­file player.

I worked re­ally, re­ally hard and I was re­ally good as a cad­die. I think it’s nice that peo­ple think I was one of the best cad­dies and I’m very com­fort­able with that. I worked hard for that. I’ve learned to say that (laugh­ing), it took me a long time! And it was fun, cad­dy­ing all those years was fan­tas­tic For those that don’t know, how did you get in­volved in the game and, as an ex­ten­sion of that, into cad­dieing?

I got my first golf club when I was six and I was re­ally en­joy­ing it by the time I was 13, I could stand on the range all day. I was the per­fect teenager, al­ways at the golf course.

I was in what they called the Swedish Ob­ser­va­tion Team, like the de­vel­op­ment squad for the main team, and I ended up win­ning a

tour­na­ment. I took a chance to cad­die to learn for my own game. I was go­ing to go to col­lege in the US but I hurt my knee and had to post­pone that a year.

I cad­died at the Scan­di­na­vian Mas­ters in Swe­den and that was fun. I re­mem­ber I got a bunch of bal­ata golf balls, it was like Christ­mas had come early. The guy (Jaime Gon­za­lez) asked me to cad­die the next week too and I did that.

Long story but I ended up cad­dieing in Europe for Jose Rivero in 1987, then An­ders Fors­brand and then Howard Clark.

You were in Aus­tralia with Clark at the time Nick Faldo ap­proached you to cad­die for him. I’d imag­ine that was ex­cit­ing but brought with it some ap­pre­hen­sion, be­ing No.1 in the world at the time?

Yes that’s right, in Mel­bourne. It was very ex­cit­ing but it wasn’t nerve-wrack­ing at all ac­tu­ally. It was un­be­liev­able. I still didn’t re­ally be­lieve it un­til I was in a taxi go­ing to his house in Eng­land be­fore we went to Amer­ica to prac­tice for five days, where I learned ev­ery­thing about his swing.

We went to Aus­tralia from there, our first tour­na­ment to­gether was in Port Dou­glas for a Skins event. Not long af­ter that, he won at Au­gusta (1990) where he de­fended his ti­tle.

Early on I just thought, he’s No.1 in the world, I might get the chance to go to Au­gusta, which I’d only heard about. I hadn’t even seen the course on TV prior to go­ing there the first time.

I ba­si­cally just thought, if I do my best, I can’t do any more. I’ll just give it my all and if it’s not enough, then at least I gave it a shot.

And I think I gave it my all ev­ery time I cad­died, for 25 years.

Nick’s pub­lic per­sona nowa­days is chalk and cheese when com­pared to his com­pet­i­tive years. Up close and be­hind the scenes, did you get to see the Sir Nick that we now see?

He was great fun but very fo­cussed ob­vi­ously. We fit­ted right in and gelled to­gether, we were both per­fec­tion­ists. It was bril­liant work­ing for him.

We’re still friends to­day and I would say I feel like he’s a brother to me, I care for him like a brother. You spent five years on the bag with fel­low Swede Hen­rik Sten­son and you con­tinue to have a close re­la­tion­ship. I can imag­ine how ex­hil­a­rat­ing it must have been when he broke the men’s Scan­di­na­vian ma­jor drought in su­perla­tive style at The Open in 2016?

We ac­tu­ally have a ju­nior event to­gether in Swe­den, which is in its sec­ond year, and we’re about to take a group of ju­niors to the States to play in an event that Faldo is do­ing – a ‘Ma­jor Cham­pi­ons In­vi­ta­tional’. Nine­teen ma­jor cham­pi­ons are each bring­ing four ju­niors to play. That Open Cham­pi­onship Hen­rik won was un­be­liev­able, I think that was one of the best matches ever in golf. To see Hen­rik be­come the first Swedish male ma­jor cham­pion was very spe­cial and he re­ally, re­ally de­served that. The way he did it was amaz­ing and he’s such a great guy, it was re­ally fun to watch.

I was so pleased and proud for him, and for Gareth Lord as well, his cad­die. Your in­ter­ests now are many and var­ied but still cen­tred heav­ily around golf, in­clud­ing coach­ing?

I coach golfers, I was also a men­tal coach for a pre­mier league foot­ball team in Swe­den for two years, I com­men­tate on a Swedish golf chan­nel – C More Golf – which is re­ally good fun. I’m in the me­dia now which is weird, same as Nick, which is un­be­liev­able.

If I had to best de­scribe it, I’d called it ‘per­for­mance’ coach­ing. I work with golfers and foot­ballers on men­tal strate­gies, how to per­form your best un­der stress but I also work for ‘nor­mal’ golfers too. I work with a guy who’s a 15-marker and I re­ally en­joy that.

I do some pub­lic speak­ing and host some events and I’ve just started a small project co-de­sign­ing

THE BACK NINE OF A MA­JOR, THAT’S WHAT I MISS. BUT (BE­CAUSE) OF MY BACK, I DON’T MISS CAD­DIEING...

a golf course up in the north of Swe­den, which is re­ally ex­cit­ing. I’ve seen a lot of golf cour­ses and I’m very in­ter­ested in course de­sign, how cour­ses should be played and the strat­egy side of things. We’re just wait­ing on the weather to im­prove be­fore we can start.

The ju­nior event Hen­rik and I host – the Sten­son Sunes­son Ju­nior Chal­lenge – is some­thing I’m very ex­cited about and we ex­pect to have 156 ju­niors play­ing the event this year.

With all that on your plate, is there any time for you to miss any­thing about the com­pet­i­tive en­vi­ron­ment of cad­dieing at the high­est level?

I do tend to think of the good things now in what I’m do­ing, I en­joy the coach­ing and the course de­sign and the TV stu‚. There’s a lot of fun projects that I’m do­ing now and I did cad­dieing for 25 years.

The thing I miss is the back nine with a chance to win, that’s what I miss. I can go now to my favourite events like Au­gusta, the TPC, The Open, but of course, it’s not the same.

The back nine of a ma­jor, that’s what I miss. But ( be­cause) of my back, I don’t miss cad­dieing be­cause cad­dy­ing is car­ry­ing a golf bag. And my back doesn’t want to carry a golf bag! Steve Wil­liams has said he was most proud of con­vinc­ing Tiger Woods to stick with a lob wedge to the 72nd hole of the 2008 US Open, lead­ing to Woods hol­ing a birdie putt to tie Rocco Me­di­ate and win the fol­low­ing day’s playo . Is there a sim­i­lar mo­ment in your ca­reer where you pos­i­tively in­flu­enced a player to hit a crit­i­cal shot that al­lowed them to win?

I re­mem­ber one in par­tic­u­lar and Nick would say the same.

It was at The Mas­ters and I changed a club at the 4th hole, he wanted to hit 3-iron and I to­tally con­vinced him to hit 4-iron.I think it was on the Satur­day one of the years he won.

He hit it sti‚ for a tap-in birdie.

Af­ter fin­ish­ing with Faldo, Fanny worked with many play­ers in­clud­ing Michelle Wie.

Muck­ing around with the boss...

...and help­ing out with prac­tice. There was never a quiet mo­ment work­ing with Sir Nick.

Fanny was an in­te­gral part of Faldo’s ma­jor suc­cess, which he al­ways recog­nised.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.