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North coast super caddies leading the way on golf course

By Gareth Hanna

Northern Ireland's north coast has staked its claim as the capital of the golfing world - and another caddie has helped to reinforce that title, making it a US Open double for the area's top men on the bag.

Portrush man Ricky Elliott steered Brooks Koepka to major victory in the men's event last month, and now a former City of Derry GC member has repeated the feat on the ladies' tour.

David Jones guided Sung Hyun Park to US Women's Open success by two shots on Sunday.

It was his own second major title after he helped In-Gee Chun to Evian Championship victory last September.

This time around he was a relative veteran, harnessing that experience to shepherd Park to her first success outside Asia.

The victory came just a week after Jones' man Richard Kilpatrick missed the cut at the Irish Open - such is the ebb and flow of life on tour.

"Hi Richard, I'm ringing about your caddie," I ventured. "Oh Davey," he laughed back - a professional golfer receiving media enquiries about his number two rather than himself perhaps not the most flattering of indictments on his own game.

"He's had some run", Kilpatrick went on, entirely unsurprised by Jones' success.

"He has been caddying on the LPGA Tour for about seven or eight years now.

"When you see a caddy being mentioned in a player's victory speech, you know he has had a big impact. That doesn't happen very often. I was watching on TV and you could see him reading all the putts over the last few holes, and really taking charge, which was brilliant."

He did a fine job of that - helping Park to a three under par back nine to seal the title. Perhaps Kilpatrick can take solace in the fact that his missed cut at Portstewart in a way made all of this weekend's events that little bit more possible.

"Davey's known as the hardest working caddy," the Banbridge pro said.

"He caddied for me on Friday at Portstewart and was straight over to New York on Saturday.

"He is a really hard worker and leaves no stone unturned."

Perhaps Park learned all she needed to, back at the Evian Championship last season, when she finished two shots behind Jones' winner Chun.

"He was with Suzanne Petterson earlier this season", explains Kilpatrick, "but they made a mutual agreement to split recently and he got the opportunity to caddy for Park.

"He has worked with Koreans before and he had heard all about this girl.

"He had actually told me a few weeks ago that she will make it to world number one very quickly, so it was an opportunity he couldn't miss.

"He has actually had offers to go over to the men's PGA Tour, but he's adamant she is going to be the world number one and he can't turn that down."

Jones certainly seems to have a unique approach to his job. Chun's Evian success last season came with a 72-hole record score thanks to a clutch putt on the final green.

His player later revealed the caddie prepared her for the shot by telling her: "If you make par, I buy the dinner."

"He's absolutely brilliant on the course," said Kilpatrick.

"He is very relaxing. He brings everything down to earth and just has a great demeanour about him. He puts everything in perspective and just makes it easy, really.

"I'm just sorry I couldn't make the cut for him last week."

Park hasn't far to go to reach the top of the women's rankings - she's up six places to fifth after her US Open win.

And the pair's next chance to make inroads on the number one spot comes at the Ricoh Women's British Open, which will take place at Kingsbarns in Scotland from August 3-6.

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