The walk from green 18 to the Riviera clubhouse involves negotiating a formidable inclination for a healthy man, let alone recovering from a serious heart condition that carries a sack of over 50 pounds.
Luckily, Mark Fulcher – known to all as Fooch – reached the top with a broad smile, despite the fact that his employer, Francesco Molinari, had just lost his cut. ‘It’s so nice to be back,’ he said.
Fooch had a golden career by falling first on the women’s tour for the likes of Laura Davies and Alison Nicholas, before teaming up with Justin Rose in 2008. In the following decade, the two Brits became like brothers while Rose established herself as a of the best in the world.
Francesco Molinari collaborated with the corpse Mark Fulcher (left) after surgery on the British heart
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
‘It was certainly motivating for me to see Cam and Marc win. The last thing I want is to be considered as the late old man … So now it’s over for Jason, right? ‘
Are we seeing a long-awaited revival for Australian golf, as Adam Scott suggested on Sunday? This year there were six events on the PGA Tour and three of these were won by Cameron Smith, Marc Leishman and Scott at the Genesis Invitational. The former world n. 1 Jason Day is disappointing the side, isn’t it?
When Fooch was diagnosed with his heart problem, which involved dividing the sternum and replacing the mitral valve, of course Rose said he would wait.
The surgeon, a passionate golfer, told Fooch that recovery would take nine months. Fooch made the Masters tour last year – only three months after the operation.
‘It was my ego that speaks,’ he says now. ‘I came to the eighth hole at the Masters asking myself “What the hell am I doing?” I really had no idea how serious the surgery was and it put a strain on my relationship with Justin. “
After Augusta, Fooch duly left for a more sensible period. Rose, in turn, made the difficult decision to move forward, naming Henrik Stenson’s old caddy, Gareth Lord, to replace Fooch.
“It’s obviously bittersweet for me, as you can imagine,” says Fooch, who hails from Bedford but now lives in Florida. ‘But in the end, I had over 11 fantastic years with Justin, so I’m thankful for all the memories.
‘There were times last summer when I thought I would never return. I would never have complained, not after the career I had, but you still want to contribute. It’s in the blood. When Frankie played last October, I told him I would make sure I was ready in January, and I am so thankful for it. It’s a huge possibility with a great player. ‘
Fooch believes he is about 80% fit. ‘The chest and heart are fantastic and now it’s time to get my caddy’s legs back,’ he said. ‘For the Masters, I want to be over 90% fit and Frankie to get his shape back.’
As for his old employer, the split was not easy for either of them, but they moved on and Rose did not rule out a meeting.
“It was Fooch’s decision to move away, he saw him go in the wrong direction,” said Rose.
‘However, I still worry deeply about him. He will always be one of my closest friends and it is really strange to see him next to another player. But the future is a long time and we will see what happens. “
An exceptional man, Fooch. Not only Rose, but the legion of other players, fellow caddies and officers in line to welcome him back testified.
The US Open should follow the sublime Riviera
The Genesis Invitational designed the best pitch for a regular PGA Tour event for 13 years last week.
Part of this depended on the tournament host, Tiger Woods. Another factor was the £ 7 million prize pool.
Riviera showed how to test the best players in the world without extending the course to 9,000 yards
Above all, however, it depended on the sublime Riviera and a perfect example of how to test the best in the world without extending the course to 9,000 yards.
Luckily the weather played football, leading to a set-up that was inviting for three days before playing the limit for Sunday’s final round. He stressed that firmness and speed had to be the three most important words in the lexicon of setting up the course, not in rough parts, since there was hardly any at Riviera.
Sunday left us a ranking full of all kinds of different players, from the fantastic ball strikers Adam Scott and Rory McIlroy, to short-lived wizards like Matt Kuchar.
Hopefully the United States Golf Association – organizers of the US Open – are paying attention. This was a classic US Open to everyone except the name. If I participate in a better regular tour this year, I will be pleasantly surprised.