Scottish caddie Craig Connelly has a new bag for 2019.
Connelly, whose hugely successful partnership with Martin Kaymer ended last year, will start working with South African star Branden Grace in Abu Dhabi next week.
“It all came about quite out of the blue,” Connelly told bunkered.co.uk. “Branden called me up at the end of the year and asked me what my plans were. I told him I didn’t have any and he asked if I’d be interested in working together. I didn’t really have to think twice.
“It’s a great opportunity. Branden’s a top player. I know he maybe didn’t have the best season in 2018 but he’s still in the world’s top 50, has won eight times on the European Tour, has had a few chances in the majors, and he’s still only 30. I’m really looking forward to it.”
Connelly admits he hasn’t spent a huge amount of time in Grace’s company up to now but has been a long-time admirer of the South African’s game.
“I remember he and Martin played together in the third round of the US PGA Championship at Whistling Straits in 2015 and they both shot lights out,” he recalled. “Martin had a 65, Branden went round in 64 and ended up finishing third. So he’s a class player. It’s always a bit like walking into the unknown when you start with a new player but I know I can do the job and Branden does, too. Now, it’s just a matter of making our personalities click and going from there. I think we’ll get on well.”
Connelly, who had a short-term gig with Australian rising star Lucas Herbert towards the end of last season, has a great record in Abu Dhabi, having won there twice with Paul Casey and once with Kaymer. So, its no surprise he’s looking forward to getting back out there.
“It’s a place that holds a lot of special memories for me,” he added. “I enjoy it out there and I really can’t think of a better place to get started with Branden. I’ve been lucky enough to go there all the way back to 2006 and I’ve always looked forward to it. Whether it’s been with Paul or Martin, I’ve always gone into it feeling as though there was a real chance of winning, so I’m hoping a bit of that rubs off on Branden next week.
“I’ve been out here a long time now but I feel more excited to do this job than ever. I can’t wait to get going.”