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Carl Baker might be the only England fan hoping to miss his country’s Euro 2024 opener next Sunday.

The Three Lions will kick off their quest for European glory against Serbia, but the former Coventry City cult hero has his eyes on another major tournament.

“I’ll record the England game,” he tells before heading for a round at Forest of Arden – his home course in Birmingham.

“It would be a dream come true to have another two days on the bag at Pinehurst.”

Should Baker miss the match, he’ll have the perfect excuse. The 41-year-old is hopeful this is the week that kicks starts his caddying career. After all, it’s only the 124th US Open.

Once of the Liverpool academy, he established himself as an English Football League legend after carving out a 22-year career, that included over 350 appearances.

But within a year of retiring from the only game he knew; Baker became a six handicap with a tour pro pal and is bound for the third major championship of the season.

In 2022, he met Robert Rock at the Farmfoods British Par 3 Championship and two years later, the pair grabbed one of nine spots in the US Open field at Walton Heath’s final qualifier in Surrey.

“For the last couple of years, we’ve been really close, and I’d play golf with Rob once a week,” Baker explained.

“I was going to caddie for him in a qualifier for the Open last year, but I wasn’t able to. So, I went down to Walton Heath with him, caddied the 36 holes and the rest is history.

“He was doing his interviews with Sky Sports, and I was sat in the clubhouse waiting to hear that he’d got in. Then, he walks in and says, ‘how do you fancy America’”.

There is a possibility this is Rock’s last US Open. At 47, he’s a two-time DP World Tour winner, who famously saw off Tiger Woods to win the 2012 Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship.

However, he retired in 2022 and his remarkable return to America’s national open could be a passing of the torch.

“I played professional football for 22 years and it was always a plan in the back of my mind to get involved in golf after football,” Baker admits.

“I know it’s very, very hard to get a job as a caddie but it’s something I’d love to do if the opportunity came along.

“It’s like football coaching in a way. The detail that goes into planning a session, picking the brains out of an opposition and the fitness and sports science side of it. It’s complicated and there’s loads that goes into it, so caddying reminds me of that.

“If there was an opportunity or you meet people at a major championship, then that would be great, but I’m going there to do a job and provide everything that Rob needs to perform his best.”

The acid test for Baker, though, will be looping on the biggest stage of them all, in front of millions.

• Meet the teacher teeing it up at the US Open

He’s aware that if the US Open is the deep end, then he’s been thrown right into it. But all good caddies are prepared, and Baker fits that bill.

“My suitcase has been packed for about a week,” he says. “I’m good friends with Ross Fisher’s caddie, Rich Lougie, and he has been amazing with me.

“I’ve done loads of work and he’s brought over his yardage books and gone through it all. He’s been doing it for 12 years and I’m probably doing his head in because I’ve asked a million questions, but he’s been a huge help in terms of doing all the preparation I can for when Rob needs me.

“There’s no one in the world who watches more than golf than me. It’s on 24/7 in my house, but I never thought once in my wildest dreams that I’d be going to Pinehurst for the US Open.

“If someone offered me a ticket to go as a spectator, I’d be over the moon so, to be inside the ropes and have some involvement, it is probably going to be the best week of my life.”

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John Turnbull A graduate of the University of Stirling, John joined the bunkered team in 2023 as a Content Producer, with a responsibility for covering all breaking news, tour news, grassroots content and much more besides. A keen golfer, he plays the majority of his golf at Falkirk Golf Club. Top of his 'bucket list' is a round of Pebble Beach... ideally in the company of Gareth Bale.

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