European Tour caddie Mick Doran talks Eddie Pepperell, Bushnell and slow play

"I think even I'd have been bored if I was JB Holmes' caddie."

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By Mick Doran on Tue, 27 Feb 2018 - 04:02

Hi GolfMagic

Mick Doran here, caddie of European Tour pro Eddie Pepperell and Bushnell ambassador. What a great time to drop by and chat to you guys off the back of Eddie's maiden European Tour win at the Qatar Masters last week. It really was a lot of fun! 

I have been fortunate to win some 35 tournaments around the world with seven different Tour professionals now, but I am extremely proud of Eddie's victory having only joined him last season. It's always nice to win with a new golfer and to see Eddie cross the line for his first win gives me a lot of satisfaction.  

This really is a massive win for him, and I think it could lead to bigger and better things. He's a very laidback guy and likes a laugh, which is exactly what I want when I work with a player. I like enjoying myself on the golf course, so anyone I work with who I can have a bit of a giggle with, that suits me! 

What amazed me about Eddie in Qatar last week was that he didn't show any sign of nerves at all on Sunday.

He said to me before we went out there in the final round that he was going to win it. He was confident and it showed. Oli Fisher, playing with him, put a bit of pressure on him over the closing holes, and he had a putt at 18 to take it into extra holes, but Eddie held in there and got the job done. 

What I have realised since working with Eddie, is that when he gets in position to win, he plays some of his best golf in the heat of the battle. He doesn't back off. To have this trait is very good, and a lot of golfers don't have those extra gears when they need them. 

The first win is the hardest, so it will be interesting to see what happens from here now. I know I'm very excited for his future. 

I thought Eddie played superb all week. I guess the only bit of drama we had to contend with was at the par-4 12th hole on Saturday. I don't know if you guys were watching what happened, but it was quite possibly the most incredible bogey you will ever see!

His distance control had been top notch all week to be honest, but we had a slight hiccup at 12 in the third round.

You honestly couldn't feel the wind. I was looking up at the top of the trees, and there was nothing, and the flag wasn't blowing at all. We had a perfect yardage for a 9-iron, but given we're at Doha Golf Club, I said there must be a little bit of wind up there, about half a club or something.

So we played for that, Eddie flushed it, and it was all over the pin, but it somehow came up short in the rocks!

 

Ridiculous #QatarMasters

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He had a bit of meltdown there in the rocks and it could have easily been an eight or a nine. He played his third shot up, it hit the rocks and came back to his feet. He then got in there again and did the same thing. He then somehow popped the ball up and it went in the hole for a bogey!

I said to him as we walked off the green, "what did we make there, you were down there for ages?!" We had a little giggle about that. It honestly felt like an eagle and Eddie responded with a birdie-two at the very next hole. 

And then incredibly the same thing happened again at 12 on Sunday, but thankfully this time the ball bounced off the rocks and across into the rough on the right side just short of the green. Eddie chipped up to 10 feet and then casually rolled in the putt for par. How he played the 12th in just 1-over for the weekend I will never know!

It was a pretty early finish because of the conditions and we finished at like 1.30pm, but we had a few celebratory drinks. I had to be a bit careful of celebrating too hard because my flight was at 2am! I went to see Eddie at his hotel for a bit and then I went to watch my beloved Manchester United take down Chelsea in the bar with the rest of the boys, and we got drunk basically! 

Moving forwards from Qatar, I see no reason why Eddie cannot push into the world's top 50 by the end of next year. He's currently up to 92 so I think this is very much possible.

This year's Ryder Cup is a long way off for him, but I think if he's to fall into Thomas Bjorn's European side then he is going to definitely need to win one of the bigger European Tour events like the BMW PGA or something like that.

But let's see, fingers crossed Eddie can push on and give Bjorn something to think about come the end of summer. 

In terms of my personal career, I have been a caddie on Tour for the best part of 30 years now and have had the pleasure of working alongside the likes of Lee Westwood, Luke Donald, Justin Rose, Thomas Bjorn, Costantino Rocca, Francesco Molinari and David Howell to name just seven.

Of all the players I've worked with, I would have to say Westwood was the most enjoyable partnership simply because he was playing golf in his absolute prime.

Everytime Lee got on the leaderboard, he either won or finished top five - it was ridiculous and just great golf to watch. I think during our two and half years together, he won 16 tournaments and that was unbelievable. 

Unfortunately though when guys start playing badly out here, you know your job is on the line, and that's exactly what happened with Lee.

He started going through a bad patch, and it was nothing to do with me but that was it. He wanted to mix things up and changing caddie was one of those areas, along with starting to hit a draw.

I also really enjoyed working with David Howell and we won the BMW PGA together in 2006. He really is a top guy.

I remember walking off the 18th tee on the final day with him and we had a three-shot lead - back when there was no water short of the green and eagles and birdies were pretty easy to come by - and he turns round to me and says: "How good is this Mick, you grew up caddying round Wentworth and now you've won it for the first time." I said "No... I won it with Rocca 10 years ago!" He was like "Ahhh you twat!" 

Those wins alongside both Rocca and Howell are still to this day what I'd consider my best career achievements, simply because winning at Wentworth is so special to me, with me growing up in Surrey. 

 

The best call of my career was probably the one in the above video from Francesco Molinari at the par-3 sixth during the final round of the 2015 DP World Tour Championship.

He had 6-iron in his hand at first, and I looked down at the green and I saw the bushes moving.

I got him to stop right at the last minute of pulling the trigger and gave him a 7-iron. Incredibly, he holed it, so I was pretty chuffed about that decision!

 

Standing alongside Rocca and watching him hole out from the Valley of Sin at the 1995 Open at St Andrews to get into the playoff with John Daly was another memorable moment of mine, especially after he had just duffed his chip.

That was probably the shot that gave me the biggest goosebumps, it was just a shame we couldn't go on to lift the Claret Jug. 

Of my worst calls - there have been a couple in my 30 years out here - I'd have to say it was one for Rocca on the 18th hole in the Sunday singles at the 1993 Ryder Cup at The Belfry. We were one up with two to play against Davis Love III and we three-putted the 17th to go down the 18th all square.

The 18th was downwind and I made him hit the three wood off the tee - it was the right club but he wasn’t comfortable and he blocked it right. We went on to lose the hole and the match, meaning the Ryder Cup went to the USA 15-13.

I guess that taught me how caddying is all about reading a player, and if he is not comfortable with the club he is not going to hit a good shot. At the end of the day, they must be 100% happy to allow them to hit. I learnt a good lesson there.

Another shocker I had with Rocca was forgetting my yardage book when we were at Valderrama! I had to write all the spots down on a random piece of paper and had to talk my way around the course. That was a tough day at the office I can tell you! 

I love my job. Every day is different. I get to walk around some great courses and get to watch some incredible golf. I wake up every day and love what I do. It's a lot of good fun with the other players and caddies. We all get on really well so we have some fun in between rounds. 

The travel side of things is tough, especially at the start of the European Tour season when it's all over the world. Being in and out of airports is pretty draining, but it's great when it settles down in the middle of the season in Europe. Oh, and getting a Chinese Visa can be hard work! 

Without question, the key product I use on a weekly basis is my Bushnell Pro X2 laser. I would be lost without Bushnell - since they've come on the scene, it's been brilliant. 

It's great for doing yardages on the range. It's accurate to half a yard, which is spot on, and I love the Slope Technology feature that provides distances adjusted for gradient. I really can't ask to be any more prepared for a tournament week knowing I've done all my homework on the practice days and out on the range with the Pro X2. 

I'll then make notes on my way round during the practice days, working with Eddie to map out our strategy for the week ahead, looking at typical wind direction, and then looking at where the holes are going to be cut for the rest of the week. There is a lot of preparation that goes into a tournament week, but I'm more than used to it now! 

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Last week in Qatar, we had a 5-wood in the bag and the wind changed round while we were on the range on Saturday, and we spoke about putting in the 3-iron and he agreed. So that came in handy. 

Eddie is very comfortable with his 3-wood at the minute. It's a very strong 3-wood and he typically doesn't hit too many drivers. It gives him a bit more belief on the tee. He's getting more comfortable with the driver, and he's just changed his swing a bit with his body movements, but for now he's sticking to the 3-wood. 

Before I sign off, I guess it's only right to give you my say on the hottest topic in golf right now, that being the issue of slow play. 

On Tour, we definitely have some slow golfers out here. I'm not naming names but we all know who they are. And most importantly, they know who they are. 

It will be interesting to see how the 40-second shot clock concept goes down at the Austrian Open this June. I personally would have done a professional tournament where par is your friend, so people can pick up and attack the flags. That would have been good. Doing a 40-second thing, I don't know how they're going to keep track of all that. 

It's very frustrating when a golfer and caddie are 30 yards in front of you and you've hit your shot, and they're still not ready to play.

I mean looking at JB Holmes at Torrey Pines a few weeks ago, which everyone seems to be talking about, I think it's a hard one because I've been there before as a caddie when there is a pressure to get a decision right on the 72nd hole. It's tricky, but there's no question JB took too long, and it really wasn't fair on Alex Noren, who had every chance of the win.

Taking more than four minutes to play a golf shot is a joke in all honesty. I think if I was JB's caddie on that hole, even I would have been getting bored - and to then hit it in the rough as a lay-up just compounded the whole situation. I don't know if he was waiting for the wind to die down or what, but they have referees there and they need to start stepping in. That's what they're there for. I guess he did still make his birdie, but that's not the point.

Anyways, I'm sure that topic will continue to gain momentum over the coming weeks and months, but for now that's it from me. 

Look forward to speaking to you guys again soon. 

Mick