A big man with big hopes for his star employer ... that's Nick Faldo's caddy

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 15 November, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 15 November, 2007, 12:00am

It's not often Nick Faldo feels overshadowed - at about 1.93 metres, the six-time major champion's physical presence on the golf course is as commanding as his stellar playing record.

But it's a different story at this week's Open as the 50-year-old Englishman, who has taken on an ambassadorial role at the event, will be joined on the fairways of Fanling by the towering figure of Stuart Murray, a stalwart of the Hong Kong amateur golf scene and Faldo's caddy for the week.

'I'm no Fanny Suneson, that's for sure,' joked the 1.96m, 105kg Murray, in reference to the Swedish female caddie who was at Faldo's side throughout his glory years of the 1990s.

'I might be slightly bigger than Nick, but whereas he's a supreme athlete - he could have played rugby for England such is his physique - I'm a lot fatter,' he beamed.

Murray, 42, who is the operations director of a locally based supply chain company, only got the call to loop for the European Ryder Cup captain on Monday afternoon after Tom Phillips, the head of the Faldo Series Asia - Faldo's youth development programme - recommended him for the job.

'As Nick doesn't play so much tournament golf these days, he doesn't have a full-time caddy. Even so, I was only expecting to be a reserve for the actual tournament; I thought I might have a chance to carry the bag during the pro-am, but that was it,' Murray said.

'As it turned out, we got on well during the practice round - he felt comfortable with me - and he asked me to stay on. It's a huge privilege; I actually feel guilty for enjoying it so much.'

Although Faldo has played down his chances of a strong showing this week, Murray, a scratch handicapper, is deeply impressed with what he has seen.

'He's obviously a bit rusty, but his game is still there,' he said. 'His attitude is great - he's as focused as I imagined he would be - and some of the shots he's been hitting have been unbelievable; really class stuff.'

Murray, who has regularly represented Hong Kong in amateur team competitions over the past 10 years, is no stranger to caddying for a professional golfer. He was on the bag for two-time Hong Kong runner-up James Kingston at last year's tournament and once caddied for legendary South African golfer Gary Player in a corporate event.

This week promises to be even more memorable however.

'He's an absolute legend,' said Murray of Faldo. 'It's going to be spectacular.

'I'll be feeling pretty nervous, because there's going to be a lot of attention around Nick, especially as he's paired with Zhang Lianwei in the first two rounds, but I am really looking forward to it all. I'm elated.'