Kieran stakes his place in golfing history
IT is a shot that has already gone down in golfing history – 159 feet into the sixth hole at Kingsbarns, sunk by the world’s greatest Olympian, US swimmer Michael Phelps, during the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship.
Footage of the putt, the longest ever televised, and the 18-gold medal winner’s celebratory high-fives and Tiger Woods-style fist pump afterwards have been seen around the world.
However, if you look carefully to the left as he sets up the shot, you will see the expert caddy whose read on where and how to hit the shot helped make it happen – Kieran Smith from St Monans.
“It’s something I’ll remember for the rest of my life,” Keiran (21) said.
Now a member of the caddy management team at Kingsbarns, Kieran has been caddying at the course for seven years and knows it like the back of his hand.
“The hole is a downhill par four and Michael hit a perfect drive with a three wood off the tee. The ball rolled down to just two yards off the green, making it about 53 yards to the hole,” Kieran said.
“I gave him my read on the hole, telling him it was uphill to get over the ridge and then downhill then that it turns hard right, and he asked if he really needed to hit it so far to the left.
“At first I didn’t think it was even going to get over the ridge and then we were so far back, we didn’t see it again until that last foot and a half – and then the whole place erupted.”
Unlike some celebrities who share few words with their caddies, Phelps laughed and bantered with Kieran all the way round – and even went out for dinner with him later.
“He was a great guy, really down to earth,” Kieran said.
The putt was the icing on the cake of three amazing days for the former Waid Academy pupil.
As well as caddying for Phelps, who was playing with pro Paul Casey, Keiran got to meet Oscar Pistorius.
The South African ‘Blade Runner’ this year became the first Paralympian to take part in an Olympic Games and, with pro Paul McGinley, played against them on the Friday.
On the Saturday, their opponents were pro Colin Montgomerie and another Olympic legend, Sir Steve Redgrave.
“It was incredible getting the opportunity to meet these three Olympic greats,” he said.
And it overshadowed his last major sporting encounter when he caddied at Kingsbarns for Pittsburgh Steelers star quarterback Ben Roethlisberger earlier this year.
While Phelps and Casey did not make the cut in the Dunhill, Kieran was out on the course again with the American on the Sunday, when he was filmed for a US programme on ex-Tiger Woods coach Hank Haney, who has been coaching Phelps.
As well as being a story that will no doubt be told over again in the clubhouse for years to come, being the caddy when Michael Phelps sunk the record-breaking putt will stand Kieran in good stead for his plans for the winter when the East Neuk course closes – he is heading over to Florida at the end of December for three months’ caddying in the sunshine.
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Wednesday 22 May 2013
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