Two Scots and an Englishman will play key roles in the Presidents Cup between the United states and the Rest of the World which starts in South Africa on Thursday – but none will hit a ball.
Alastair McLean and Dave Renwick from Scotland will caddie for Australian Adam Scott and Fijian Vijay Singh respectively, while Brendan McCartain, from Bognor Regis will be on the bag of rising star Charles Howell III on the American team.
All are highly experienced bagmen and before play gets under way with six foursomes matches will have the measure of the Links course which runs beside the Indian Ocean, with its fast-running fairways and fickle winds.
McLean was formerly beside seven-times Volvo order of merit winner Colin Montgomerie before switching to the highly rated Scott last year, while the blunt and uncompromising Renwick is in his second stretch with the in-form Singh following an unsuccessful term with Lee Westwood.
McCartain, who has a wife and two children, had a spell with double US Masters champion José María Olazábal and freelanced around the US and European Tours before joining up with Howell earlier this year.
The Augusta youngster, who’s a protégé of David Leadbetter, is tipped to form a new partnership with Tiger Woods in the Presidents Cup this week. The pair get on well, strike the ball a similar distance and the World No.1, competing in his fifth Presidents Cup, is an ideal foil for Howell, who’s making his Cup debut.
"Tiger has asked to play with Charles," revealed US captain Jack Nicklaus, "and if you have two guys who want to play together, and they’re playing reasonably well, I see no reason why they shouldn’t."
Woods, 27, and Howell, 24, first met in the quarter-finals of the 1996 U.S. Amateur, which Woods won 3 & 1 on his way to a record third successive title, and they met up again for early morning practice rounds during The Open Championship at Royal St George’s.
Woods and Howell flew to South Africa together on Woods’ private jet and spent a few days together in Cape Town.
"I feel comfortable around him," says Howell. "I can’t fault anything about him. I’m trying to do the things he has done. And the fact he calls me ’kid’ probably changes the dynamics of the relationship."
The US team is: Woods, Howell, Chris di Marco, Fred Funk, Jim Furyk, Jay Haas, Jerry Kelly, Justin Leonard, Davis Love, Phil Mickelson and David Toms.
Rest of the world: Robert Allenby, Stuart Appleby, KJ Choi, Tim Clark, Retief Goosen, Stephen Leaney, Ernie Els, Peter Lonard, Nick Price, Adam Scott, Vijay Singh and Mike Weir.
Matches start with six foursomes on Thursday, five foursomes and five fourballs on Friday, six fourballs on Saturday and will be completed with 12 singles matches on Sunday when both Els and Singh are vying for the chance to take on Tiger.