Brooks Koepka may be a four-time major winner and world number one, but for the only time in his career he is playing second-fiddle to his caddie this week.
Ricky Elliott hails from Portrush and Koepka hopes his local knowledge of the course will give him an advantage on a links which has not hosted the Open since 1951.
Such is Elliott’s perceived inside track that even 15-time major winner Tiger Woods, a man known for being solitary and single-minded in his preparations, tried to piggyback on his wisdom.
Woods said “I texted Brooksy and I said, ‘mind if I tag along and play a practice round? I’ve heard nothing.”
Koepka is wise to keep Elliott’s counsel to himself, even if he is the most in-form golfer on the planet right now.
But Elliott’s presence on the fairways this week means Koepka is walking slightly in his shadow, with the American himself even talking about how great it would be for the 41-year-old bagman to win in his home town.
“I probably hear more, ‘Ricky, hey, Ricky, what’s going on?’ than anything,” said the current USPGA champion, who has been with Elliott for six years.
“I’m sure he’ll have quite a bit of friends and family out. It will be a special week for him, for sure.”
Asked if his caddie was enjoying the attention, Koepka added: “He has to be. He has to be.
“I don’t think when he grew up that he ever thought there would be an Open Championship here and to top it off, I don’t think he ever thought he’d be a part of it.
“And to be caddying and to be able to win one here would be – he’d be a legend, wouldn’t he? He already is. But it would be cool to see him win.
“I wouldn’t want anybody else on my bag. He’s been tremendous. He’s part of the reason why I’ve had the success I’ve had.
“I love the guy to death and am looking forward to many years to come, he’s not going to leave me for a long time.”
Elliott, and Koepka, are probably best placed to succeed considering the golfer’s form in majors this year, with two runners-up spots to add to his PGA win.
In the last 11 majors he has four wins and four other top-six finishes, but outside of golf’s premier events this year he has been less impressive with just three top-10s in 11 regular strokeplay events.
“I just practice before the majors. Regular tournaments I don’t practice. If you’ve seen me on TV, that’s when I play golf,” he said.
“I left Travelers (on June 23) and showed up at 3M on Tuesday night (July 2). The Wednesday was the first time I touched a club in, what, 10 days?
“That happens week in and week out. Majors I like to play the week before and find a rhythm, build a rhythm, so got over here Friday and have practised.
“I want to play the best I can every week. I want to play well in majors. And whether it comes, great; and if it doesn’t, I’m actually happy with my life right now.
“I feel like I’m in a good spot and that’s all that matters to me.”