Spaniard Pablo Larrazabal’s decision to have his big brother Alejandro on the bag in this week’s Volvo China Open seems to be paying dividends – certainly during his first two rounds – but it begs the question is having a sibling as caddie a help or hindrance?
Does having your brother on the bag bring out the best in a player – fostering a ‘Band of Brothers’ spirit – or, alternatively, can sibling rivalry take over, with the outcome more akin to Liam and Noel Gallagher?
Over the years there have been numerous examples of ‘Bag Brothers’, with, it has to be said, varying degrees of success.
In recent times Luke Donald enjoyed a fruitful eight year stint with his brother Christian at his side – winning two European Tour and two US PGA Tour titles – until the pair opted for a fresh start last year.
During his illustrious career Seve Ballesteros had various brothers on his bag, while Davis Love III had his brother Mark Love caddie for him when he won the Heritage Golf Classic in 2003.
Famously Franceso Molinari was at his brother Edoardo’s side when the elder of the Italian siblings made his Masters Tournament debut in 2006.
Before the pair returned to August National last week, Edoardo reflected on that experience: “Maybe I wasn't ready for that course then, because as an amateur you don't play anything like Augusta, but having Francesco on the bag helped a bit and we had the time of our life.”
Larrazbal, however, has been a little more cautious about extolling the virtues of having big brother in tow.
Pablo, whose normal caddie has been given leave to the impending birth of his first child, was on the bag for his elder brother Alejandro when the elder sibling won the Amateur Championship in 2002 and then again when he played in The Open Championship of the same year.
He said: “I’ve caddied for him a lot and he hasn’t very much for me. It’s hard to have your older brother on the bag for you. But it has been great. We enjoyed the past two days a lot and we are looking forward to being in contention over the weekend. When we are on the course he is my caddie, not my brother but it helps that he is a former player. He knows what to say to me.”
Alejandro added: “I’ve enjoyed it. We have got on well and Pablo is playing well, which helps. I don’t want the job full time though!”
The inner-family player- caddie link-up could be even more fraught with problems than the stress of siblings, of course. On the Senior Tour players will often have their wives take the honour, which must have started at least one or two domestics over the years – although Barry Lane, who is soon to join the over 50s, seems to have found the balance between home life and his caddie with his wife Camilla on the bag.
There are also several examples of players who have their brother-in-law as their caddie, notably Padraig Harrington and Retief Goosen currently.
Perhaps, however, Phil Mickelson got it right last week when his kids caddied for him in the fun Par Three Contest ahead of the Masters Tournament. It certainly didn’t do him any harm in the real thing, did it?