Several legends of golf and entertainment are competing in the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship but the first round of 2007 also featured the return of one of the greats of the caddie world –Willie Aitchison.
The Scot was pressed into action for the final two holes on the Old Course at St Andrews to caddie for young Scots professional Jamie McLeary, who had come in to take the place of the injured Ignacio Garrido, who dropped out after 14 holes.
McLeary’s score did not count for the professional competition but it will be allowed to count in the amateur competition as he partnered Chris Goodwin, but more exciting for the young Scot was the fact that he had Aitchison on his bag over the 17th and 18th holes.
Aitchison, who won the Open Championships with Roberto Di Vicenzo at Royal Liverpool in 1967 and with Lee Trevino at Royal Birkdale in 1971 and at Muirfield in 1972, caddied for the last time with Trevino in the Open Championship at Turnberry in 1994 before working as Caddie Master on The European Tour for a number of seasons.
“It was a great feeling for me to get the bag on my shoulder again,” said Aitchison. “I’m not frightened to admit that there was a wee rush of adrenalin when I put it over my shoulder and started walking down the fairway again.
“It was great to do it here, especially because when I first left home to caddy, back in 1951, St Andrews was the place I had my first job.
“I think Jamie was a wee bit nervous as well so I tried to help him out. He asked where he should hit it on the last and, judging the way the wind was going, I said to him, aim on the clock and let the wind take it in.
“He did that quite well and when we got up there the only shot he could play was a pitch and run through the Valley of Sin. I said to him, can you play a pitch and run and he said yes, so I told him exactly where to hit it and to be fair to the lad he did just that and played a beauty right to two feet and knocked the putt in for a three.
“So I suppose I can say I have finished my caddying career with a birdie! There was talk of me caddying for Jamie tomorrow but I don’t think I’d want to do 18 holes. With Jamie having made a birdie three down the 18th on the Old Course, I’m happy to go out on a high.”