Ryder Cup caps off amazing year for Stephen Gallacher’s caddie

Damian Moore, left, has been on Stephen Gallacher's bag for three years
Damian Moore, left, has been on Stephen Gallacher's bag for three years
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Self-confessed “softie” Damian Moore is hoping he can hold back the tears on the first tee in this week’s Ryder Cup.

As Stephen Gallacher’s caddie, he’ll have the job of trying to keep the Lothians star calm at Gleneagles.

But Moore, who lives in Mid Calder, is worried he’ll be the one welling up as 2014 delivers another special moment. Back in January, the Englishman became a dad for the first time when his son, Harris, was born.

Then, a week past Sunday, he got married to his partner, Susan, in the heart of Edinburgh.

That occasion came a few days after Gallacher had secured one of Paul McGinley’s wildcards, leaving Moore pinching himself as he heads into the biggest week of his caddying career.

“It’s been the most amazing September I’ve ever had,” he told the Edinburgh Evening News in an exclusive interview.

“In fact, it’s been the most amazing year of my life what with the birth of our boy, getting married and Stevie getting into the Ryder Cup.

“We were due to get married last November but then we discovered that Harris was coming along. It was re-arranged for just after the end of the Ryder Cup qualification and has worked out amazing.”

The wedding at Greyfriars Kirk took place the day after Gallacher had been at the funeral of his gran, Millie.

“I told him that he didn’t need to come to the wedding if he didn’t feel up to it but he said, ‘I wouldn’t miss it for the world’ and he came along with his family, which was great,” admitted Moore.

Moore is into his fourth season on Gallacher’s bag, having previously worked for Jose Maria Olazabal, Robert Karlsson and Jesper Parnevik, among others.

Like his current boss, he’ll be a Ryder Cup rookie in Perthshire and was beginning to wonder if the opportunity may have passed him by. I’ve tried for 27 years to get into the Ryder Cup and have been close a few times,” he reflected.

“I worked for Mark James the year he was captain (in 1999). He finished second in the PGA Championship at Wentworth and looked as though he could make the team. I was also close a couple of times with Robert Karlsson. I didn’t think I was going to be a father and that changed and so now has my Ryder Cup dream.

“It’s a massive thing for me to caddie in a Ryder Cup in Scotland. My family are up here and it will be a proud moment for me.

“I feel like a semi-Jock now. I couldn’t think of living anywhere other than Scotland and it’s great to know my boy is going to grow up and be educated in Scotland.

“It is going to be emotional for me as I’m a big softie and will probably have to fight back the tears.”

There was never really any danger of Gallacher’s year-long battle to make team ending in tears after he came within a shot of qualifying automatically.

Now Moore is confident his boss will bounce back from a missed cut in Wales last week to be a strong player for Europe on a course where he’s chalked up seven top-tens since 2001.

“Even I didn’t see him doing what he did in Italy,” admitted Moore of the 39-year-old’s performance in the final counting event. He needed to finish in the top two in Turin to knock Graeme McDowell out of the last automatic berth and almost did it with a last-round 65.

“To be honest, I felt he was more nervous off the course that week than on it,” added Moore. “He got off to a bad start in the first round then set out in the second round 15 off the lead.

“The way he played on the back nine in the second round, coming home on 30, then on the last day, when he went out in 30, was a bit like in Dubai (where Gallacher came home in 28 in a third-round 63 as he retained the Desert Classic in February).

“It was so seamless and it was amazing to watch at close-quarters.

“Did I think he’d be picked after that? I didn’t want to get my hopes raised too much but I think Paul McGinley would have been lynched if he hadn’t picked Stevie because Stevie made his job easy with that performance in Italy. As for missing the cut in Wales last week, I told him that he shouldn’t beat himself up about that because it is all about this week and he’s in a good place coming into the Ryder Cup.

“In the three years I’ve caddied for him he has always played well at Gleneagles. Even when he had a poor opening round a couple of years ago I didn’t feel we were going home early.

“There’s a calmness about him there and it’s the same when he plays in Dubai.

“I think he will take it in his stride, particularly as it is on a golf course he likes so much. He’s got so many good memories round there and they are bound to click in. That takes a bit of pressure off.

“Of course he’ll feel extra pressure on the first tee. But, once he hits that opening shot, whether it’s good or bad, he’ll pick up the tee peg and be in the office doing what he’s done for 20 years.”

The other caddies on duty this week include Craig Connelly, who works for Martin Kaymer, and Jamie Donaldson’s bagman, Mick Donaghy. “I’ve spoken to some of the other caddies and the one thing they all said was ‘go and enjoy it’,” declared Moore. “They said it’s hard work but you need to try and enjoy it as it will be one of the best weeks of your life.

“Paul McGinley has gone to a new level when it comes to looking after the caddies. He’s been brilliant and it was great to sit in with him and the four players when they had dinner in Wales. The banter was great and he wants it to be like that at Gleneagles. Having an unbelievable captain doesn’t mean we will win but it helps.”

For Moore, becoming a Ryder Cup winner would be the icing on the cake for his special year.