Johannesburg - Professional caddie Tiger Lekhulene is on the verge of accomplishing the biggest mission of his career.
He has been invited by Nick Price, the captain of the Presidents Cup international team, to lead the squad’s caddies against the US side at Liberty National Golf Club in Jersey City in the US from September 28.
The 58-year-old Lekhulene has worked at Randpark Golf Club for the past 25 years. He has been carrying golf bags for the Zimbabwean-born Price since 1977, when he was then an amateur and used to practise at the course with fellow professional Mark McNulty.
Price has won three majors – the PGA Championship in 1992, and the British Open and PGA Championship in 1994.
He triumphed at the Nedbank Million Dollar Challenge at Sun City in 1993, 1997 and 1998, with Lekhulene guiding him on how to go about the course.
Winning the 1998 event was one of Lekhulene’s highlights as he was instrumental in helping Price beat Tiger Woods.
The caddie also helped his boss beat Ernie Els the year before.
But meeting Woods face to face at Sun City after Price’s triumph was a high point for Lekhulene. Price even asked the golfing icon to sign a cap for Lekhulene.
Now 60 years old, Price, who is based in Jupiter in Florida, campaigns in the PGA Champions Tour – for professional senior golfers.
He could not forget to reward Lekhulene, the man who helped shape his career by carrying his load during big events.
Lekhulene is elated that he has been chosen to guide caddies working with different players to help the team win.
The father of three said he was proud to be chosen as captain of caddies at the prestigious event. He added that he had not been to New Jersey before and was looking forward to being in the US.
“I’ve worked with Nick for many years. I advised him on many aspects of the game, like where the wind is coming from during tournaments, as well as which clubs to use,” said Lekhulene.
“I got a call from him that I should lead the caddies of his team at the Presidents Cup. This is a big break for me as Nick and I have been in contact and I’m looking forward to giving it my best shot in the US.”
His main duty will be to motivate fellow caddies by guiding them on how best to keep players in the right frame of mind during the four-day showdown.
Lekhulene said he would also talk to his colleagues about the importance of club selection before and after each round. He believes that shaping Price’s professional career has come with a big reward in the form of this trip.
“We won more than 15 tournaments together. Nick is not a person who gets angry on the course. When he hits a bad shot, he always takes it well instead of throwing his clubs in frustration – like most players do.”
Francois Swart, the general manager of the Randpark Golf Club, said: “We are very proud of Tiger’s achievements as a caddie and are equally proud of him as a long-standing member and regular caddie of our club.”