Caddie scores points with K.J.

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Caddie scores points with K.J.

CRANS-SUR-SIERRE, Switzerland ― Andy Prodger, the 54-year-old caddie for Korean golf pro K. J. Choi, can’t help but compliment Choi on his modesty.
“Other players should learn from K. J. Choi,” Prodger told a JoongAng Ilbo reporter at Crans-sur-Sierre Golf Club in the Swiss Alps.
Choi, 34, tied for eighth at 284th, or 10-under-par at the Omega European Masters that ended Sunday on this course that has a view of the Matterhorn. In the fourth and final round, Choi finished fourth at 4-under-par; he shot eight birdies that round, but a series of mistakes in chip shots at the outset hurt him. Luke Donald, a Briton, shot a 19-under-par to win the European PGA event by five strokes over his nearest competitor.
“I have been very fortunate to have met K. J. Choi. He is not only a good player but he is considerate to others,” Prodger said.
Prodger, a Scotsman, is 20 years Choi’s senior and shorter than the Korean, who at 173 centimeters (5-foot 8-inches) isn’t too lofty himself. Yet neither of the two seemed intimidated by taller players around them.
The two met a year ago. Last September, during the Linde German Masters in Cologne, Choi was looking for a caddie, and the organizer introduced him to Prodger. At first, Choi was unsure of the match. Although Prodger had worked for Nick Faldo and Colin Montgomery when both players were in their prime, by this time Prodger had aged and injured a shoulder. It was not clear whether “Prodge” could carry a bag of golf clubs.
When Choi asked if he could carry the bag, Prodger assured him that he would be fine.
Choi felt sorry for him and submitted a medical certificate to the organizer to request that Prodger be allowed to load his bag on a cart and push it around. On a European tour, where traditions and rules are strictly followed, this allowance marked the first time that a caddie would move a player’s clubs on a cart.
Their first collaborative effort, at Cologne, ended in victory. Afterward, Choi said, “I made a shot according to his calculation, and the ball dropped in front of the pin.”
Linde marked Choi’s first European tour victory, from which Prodger earned 10 percent of the $574,000 in prize money.
Up to that time, Choi had not had much luck with caddies. He said he has suffered at the hands of inexperienced or irresponsible caddies and switched quite often.
“Never mind having a precise calculation of distance and brake, Prodger’s strengths lie in understanding the state of mind of a player and acting on it,” Choi said.
“Prodger is always cheerful. I don’t know why other golfers let go of him. I am very lucky.”
Though Prodger’s physical condition has improved, Choi tries to keep his bag as light as possible. Next week, Choi and Prodger will return to Cologne, where they first met each other. They plan to have a party to celebrate the first anniversary of their union.

by Sung Ho-jun
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