Mark Crane started his caddying career on the same side as Rory McIlroy and Danny Willett against Dustin Johnson and Rickie Fowler, and it’s turned full circle as the Scot has reached Hazeltine.
Mark caddied for fellow Scot Lloyd Saltman – the first player to employ him – at the 2007 Walker Cup at Royal County Down when McIlroy and Willett were on the GB&I team. He’s since become one of Europe’s most reliable bagmen, working with Richie Ramsay before pairing up with his current boss, BMW PGA champion and European team rookie Chris Wood.
“The caddying I did for Lloyd when he was coming through as an amateur was crucial for me,” he said. “That was my apprenticeship and it’s what has got me where I am today so I will always be grateful to Lloyd for giving me that chance.
“It’s pretty cool that nine years on I’m now going to be involved in the same Ryder Cup team as two of the GB&I players from the Walker Cup match in Rory McIlroy and Danny Willett.”
He doesn’t think the dream of going to a Ryder Cup could be with a better partner than Wood.
“It’s pretty special that Chris and I are sharing this journey for the first time together,” he continued. “I knew he had a lot of potential when I started working with him and I think it was just down to injury that he hadn’t fulfilled it until now.
“When he won at Wentworth, it was just a case of enjoying the moment, but I didn’t think straight away that it meant we were almost certain to make the European team.
“It wasn’t until I got a text from Danny Willett saying, ‘congratulations and Ryder Cup here we come’ that I realised that was pretty much the case.
“Chris is a real competitor and I think he’ll do well. Europe have had plenty of rookies involved in all the recent Ryder Cups yet have won eight out of the last 10. And, if we can get off to a good start in this one, then that will pile the pressure on the Americans.”
Mark has also consulted Ramsay, who won his US Amateur title at Hazeltine in 2006.
“It’s a special place for Richie, of course, and I’ve asked him about it. The course isn’t how it is when he won the US Amateur as they’ve changed the routing.
“Richie played a big part in my career and was one of the first to text me when we made the team. It’s been nice to see memories from his win there in the clubhouse.”