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On the bag with Tom Watson

At the Gary Player Invitational, Shane O'Donoghue caddied for eight-time major winner Tom Watson, where the American shared some anecdotes and golf tips.

Posted: Oct 27, 2018 7:44 AM
Updated: Oct 27, 2018 7:44 AM

There isn't a lot many of us could tell an eight-time major winner about golf that he doesn't already know.

But the art of caddying -- much more than just carrying a bag of clubs around (and trying not to drop them) -- often means doing exactly that.

And most of the time, behind every successful golfer there is a strong relationship with his caddie.

American Tom Watson enjoyed a love affair with The Open Championship that yielded five famous Claret Jugs and lasted more than three decades.

From his first win in 1975 to his improbable play-off defeat in 2009 at the age of 59, Watson has been part of some of the tournament's most iconic moments.

One of those -- often dubbed the greatest weekend in golf history -- was his victorious "Duel in the Sun" against the legendary Jack Nicklaus.

READ: Remembering the "Duel in the Sun"

On the bag that bright afternoon at Turnberry, as he was for Watson's other four Open wins and his 2009 run, was Alfie Fyles.

WATCH: On the Bag -- Gary Player

Hailing from Southport, a large seaside town in the north of England, Fyles was introduced to Watson by Mark McCormack, founder of IMG, and the pair hit it off immediately.

"When you have a new relationship, he doesn't really know how you play," Watson told CNN Living Golf's Shane O'Donoghue, his caddie for the day at the Gary Player Invitational.

"He's carrying the bag and I was getting yardages basically myself, but every now and then I was asking him what type of club to hit because we were playing a real links golf course and I didn't know how to play links golf.

"So he helped me there -- my first Open Championship I won."

While all professional golfers are more than capable of reading their own yardages and selecting the right club, it's often up to the caddies to just say the right thing at the right time -- or sometimes nothing at all.

WATCH: On the Bag -- Nick Faldo

"I think the most important thing is he was there and he was all in, all in with the moment," Watson says of Fyles, who in 1999 was inducted into the Caddie Hall of Fame.

Watson hit a stunning approach shot to within three feet on the final hole in 1977, while Nicklaus faced a putt 10 times the length after hitting out from a gorse bush.

"Alfie said one thing that caddies never should say and as I was walking up to the green," Watson recalls. "He saw my ball really close and Jack's 30-feet away -- I have a one-shot lead.

"He said: 'You've got him now, sir. You've got him now.' And I said: 'Alf, he's gonna make this putt.

"He looks at me: 'What?'"

Though it was a far shorter putt than Nicklaus', Watson's ball was still two-and-half feet from the cup, certainly a missable distance given the pressurized circumstance.

He was right, Nicklaus did indeed hole the putt but Watson held his nerve to win one of golf's greatest battles.

To see how Shane fared as Watson's caddie, watch the video above.

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