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From Jordan Spieth and Michael Greller’s wild odyssey on Royal Birkdale’s 13th hole to Rory McIlroy’s abrupt dismissal of longtime looper J.P. Fitzgerald, PGA Tour caddies are attracting more attention than ever.
In particular, Spieth and Greller have sparked a renewed interest in the player-caddie dynamic. Their dialogue at the Open Championship captivated thousands of fans, and Spieth has always been quick to credit Greller for his counsel, often using the word “we” in winner’s press conferences.
Justin Rose and Mark Fulcher may not be as widely known as Spieth and Greller, but they nevertheless form one of professional golf’s most formidable pairs. Together, they’ve won a U.S. Open, an Olympic gold medal and a World Golf Championship event. The English duo is winless in 2017, but with a solo second at the Masters and four other top-five finishes, they’ve had their close calls.
That kind of play doesn’t often materialize without a good player-caddie relationship, something that Rose and Fulcher have in spades. Recently, Fulcher revealed the keys to his successful rapport with the TaylorMade-sponsored Rose, who’s ranked 13th in the world.
“First and foremost, Rosie is my boss – I never lose sight of that,” he said. “The reality is that I understand the quality of work he requires from everybody around him.”
But while hard work is a requirement for any PGA Tour caddie, familiarity and experience can be much harder to come by. Rose and Fulcher have been a team for nearly a decade and are both veterans of the circuit, so the level of trust between them runs deep.
“When you spend a long time with somebody and you go through some battles on and off the course, you develop a bond,” Fulcher said. “I’d walk through fire for Rosie…The two of us together probably have nearly 50 years experience in professional golf and that knowledge enables us to make the right decision together.”
Rose has fought through nagging back issues over the past year, taking eight weeks off at the end of 2016 to recover. In addition, he and Fulcher have suffered some tough losses at the majors, so their bond is battle-tested.
Ultimately, though, there’s no substitute for being like-minded, and Fulcher believes that his boss is one of the savviest players in the world.
“Rosie’s course management is about as good as I’ve ever witnessed,” he said. “I’ve always said to him that if he doesn’t want to be a golfer, he would make a great caddie.”
Rose and Fulcher are currently in North Carolina for the PGA Championship at Quail Hollow. Rose will tee off at 1:45 p.m. on Thursday.