GOLF: Caddy Jones to the fore in Rio
Local man David Jones has been lucky enough to have travelled the world in his role as caddy for some of the top golfers in the women's game.
But the Prehen man’s trip to the Olympics Games in Rio will live long in his memory.
Jones was caddying for one of the rising stars in the women’s game, South Korean InGee Chun.
She was one of four South Koreans playing in the women’s event.
The 22-year-old missed out on a medal, but Jones said the experience was phenomenal.
“The lead up to the games was covered with a lot of negative press from the men’s game,” said the former City of Derry member.
“But the ladies on the other hand have embraced it from the very beginning.
“In particular with the Koreans the pressure was huge to make the team so for a long time we just put it aside and played our season, knowing that if we played well it would take care of itself.
“On a personal level it was unbelievable to get a chance to go.
“We stayed in the Olympic Village for the week, got the same accreditation as the players and pretty much had full access to everything going on.
“It was always going to be a great week but as it got closer to leaving when the Team uniforms and clothes started to arrive it got bigger.
“I didn’t travel out until the Saturday at the end of the first week so watching the opening ceremony and getting messages from the other lads who went to see the swimming, cycling etc built it up even more.
“There aren’t many people who can go to an Olympics and stay inside the ropes and see it up close.
“I didn’t get the chance to see much of Rio other than the games.
“We had transport that took us from the village to any event we wanted to see and dropped us inside the venue. The village itself was located an hour from Copacabana beach area.
“The Olympic Park which hosted the vast majority of events including aquatic centre, velodrome, tennis centre were all 10 minutes from the village. As was the golf course.
“I went to the Olympic Stadium on occasions to watch the athletics and saw Usain Bolt win both the 100 and 200 metres.
“The stadium was 45 minutes away and this is really the only time I caught a glimpse of Rio outside of the Olympics.
“The one thing I would have done if I had more time would be go up and see the Statue of Christ The Redeemer.“
Team GB caused quite a stir with their fantastic performance at the games, but the 36-year-old said the news was fairly low key in the village.
“It’s actually quite quiet when you stay in the village, from a hype and media point of view,” he said.
“I was aware of the success for GB through our media and family at home, but when I was in the village the coverage is of all sports and all countries and you lose that atmosphere that our press builds.
“Everyone is in the village to achieve their own success and no single country or individual stands out.
“I have never ever been in an environment that has so many people with the same outlook, drive, and desire. This creates an environment that allows everyone to focus on their own job and not be distracted by whats happening around them.
“Nor have I ever saw an event on this size and scale, but yet the athletes actually have peace and quiet to prepare and focus on their own goals, away from the distraction going on outside.
“In some ways staying in the village protects you from the outside.”
InGee may have finished out of the medals this time round, but David believes there will be plenty to come from the talented young golfer.
“I have been caddying for InGee for over a year now,” he said.
“As she won last year’s US Open (I started the week after she won US Open) she had full status to join the LPGA at the beginning of this current season.
“Her season last year was pretty spectacular, in the fact she won five majors on respective tours (US Open on LPGA, two Majors on Japanese Tour including the Japanese Open, and two on her native Korean Tour).
“As well as that she also recorded three regular wins for eight total victories in the season.
“I was lucky to be part of the two major wins in Korea and the Japanese Open.
“The season so far has been very solid.
“She was runner up in the first major of the year at ANA Inspiration in Palm Springs.
“InGee also had two other runners up finishes, a third and and a couple of top 10, including eighth in the recent women British Open.
“She is as good as guaranteed to the rookie of the year award.
“It has been a very good season but I don’t think she has played her best, and it has been tough on her coming to a new country and adjusting, especially given that english is not her first language.
“Without a doubt she has everything that it takes to be the number one player in the world, and is currently ranked eighth.”