Golf Asia


Portrush-born Ricky Elliott has caddied for Brooks Koepka since 2013. We asked him for the secrets of their success


What have you seen in Brooks’ game and character that has taken him from a Challenge Tour player to World No.1 and multiple Major winner inside six years?

What has struck me most about Brooks is how little he’s actually changed during that period. His biggest strength, I think, is that he doesn’t think he has it all. He’s not a know-it-all kind of guy. He doesn’t talk down to me or anyone around him and he’s always treated everyone who works with or for him with complete respect.

It could be easy to let success go to your head, but he listens to everybody, he takes the advice we offer and then he processes that to come to a decision. He’s had the same manager, coaches, and same caddie for the last six years, and I think that tells you something. We’ve all worked for him since he was No.200 in the world. He’s still the same guy.

But in terms of his game, what have been the most significan­t improvemen­ts?

It’s just been a combinatio­n of getting better a little bit across every aspect of his game rather than one or two things. Obviously, he’s worked out a lot in the gym and he’s gotten a lot stronger, which has helped him with the consistenc­y of his swing. But there haven’t been any major overhauls in any part of his golf game that have suddenly flicked a switch. I think he’s improved his understand­ing of his golf swing and he’s improved his problem-solving with it. When he hits bad shots now, he knows how to fix the problem and how to fix it fast.

His putting stats in recent seasons suggest significan­t improvemen­t, though...

Yeah, his putting has really improved, both long and short. His strokes gained putting stat has improved since I started working with him and also his putting from inside of 10 feet. Though when you look at last year in the Majors, he had a chance to win the Masters – he only lost by one – and yet he didn’t putt particular­ly well all week. The same thing happened at The Open. He struck the ball so well all week at Portrush, but he didn’t have a good week on the greens. But we all know that just happens in golf.

Pete Cowen spoke to us recently and mentioned the significan­t improvemen­ts he’s seen with Brooks’ short game.

Without doubt, that’s true. I think the numbers show that Brooks has definitely improved his chipping and bunker play. His sand save percentage has increased from 2014 to 2019, going from 52 per cent to 58 per cent. That might not sound like a lot but I think it took him from 62nd or 63rd on the PGA Tour stats to 22nd, and that obviously makes a huge difference. His scrambling numbers have gone from a 57 per cent up-and-down rate in 2014 to 62 last season, which I think jumped him up 65 or 66 spots. And, again, that makes a huge difference. The numbers show you that he’s just more comfortabl­e around the greens and saving shots.

How much of this is also down to maturity?

Yeah, I think there’s an element of that. He’s just a better manager of his game now than he was, which has come from age and experience and is entirely understand­able. He now knows much better when to take risks and when to take what the golf course gives him.

As a former Irish boys’ champion yourself, and someone who had ambitions to make it on tour, is it frustratin­g to watch Brooks make it all look so easy out there?

No, not at all. It’s more awe-inspiring than anything. I tried the teaching thing. I tried playing. I tried every other aspect to golf that I could, but it wasn’t to be. I really loved the competitiv­e side of the game and the gamble of going out there and playing. I loved the fact that if you miss the cut, you go home. That sense of competitio­n always appealed to me. But I just wasn’t good enough to make it as a player. The truth is, I sucked. I could see from G-mac how hard it was to make it and I could see I didn’t have what was needed, so I gave up and looked at alternativ­e options. If you can’t play yourself, caddieing is the next best thing. So it is nice to be in the fortunate position to caddie for somebody who is so good. And I’ve enjoyed every minute of it.

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