ERIN, Wis. -- How do y'all feel about me batting .500 for the tournament week when it comes to the "confidential" part? I'm thinking you won't mind an interview with the winning caddie from the U.S. Open, Ricky Elliott.
Elliott was born in Ireland and still has a heavy Irish accent, but he has become a U.S. citizen who proudly caddied in last year's Ryder Cup and will tell you what this win means to him. Enjoy!
Collins: What was the best part of the day for you?
Elliott: Uh ... finishing! [laughs] Freakin' gettin' 'round all those holes. No, I think when he holed the putt on 15 [for birdie]. And the second shot into 15 was good because that was the last hole into the wind we had to play. And really, you could duff it onto the 16th if you know what I mean, and 17 was a wide tee shot. Then, obviously, we had the 2- or 3-stroke lead. Playing the last three holes downwind after he birdied 15, that putting going in was like, "Aaaiiight, this is really on now."
Collins: Were you looking at the leaderboard all day?
Elliott: I was, yeah. I mean, he's a leaderboard watcher, too, but I knew pretty much what was going on. You can't really change your game plan around here. If you start wussing out and trying to hit shots off tees not to make a bogey -- you know what I'm talking about -- you end up winging it into the rough 'cause you haven't hit that shot all week. The only thing we did different was hit 3-wood down the last [18th hole]. He's hit driver every day! But he hit a 3-wood and I thought he couldn't reach that bunker, but he's absolutely smashed it ... that was the only time we changed our game plan.
Collins: At any point in the day did you get butterflies out there?
Elliott: ... To be honest, he was so in control, and when your player [is] in control, your caddie can relax. [We both laugh.] If he's starting to get jumpy then you're like, "Well, what's going on here? Should I be jumpy too?!" But he was just deadline all day. It's not hard to caddie for Brooks.
Collins: What was the hardest hole to caddie today?
Elliott: Starting out, probably No. 4. But he hit a good tee shot down there. Because obviously where the pin was and the second shot [can] go over the back, stuff can happen there ... No. 9 as well. He's hit a wedge there. I thought it was going to land 10 yards short, and it did, but it landed right on the very back, but it stayed up. And that's the sort of breaks you need whenever you win something like this.
Collins: I heard you say you knew how much this win means to him, because it's here and it's the national championship, but what's it mean to you?
Elliott: It's unbelievable. It's, it's, it's just incredible [the excitement starts to set in]. I'm an American citizen, believe it or not with my accent [everyone around starts laughing, including Ricky]. I did the Ryder Cup. So to win my national open is great! [Happy laughs all around as players and caddies are coming over to congratulate him.]
Collins: Now you have both Ryder Cup and U.S. Open caddie wins. Which is better?
Elliott: This one. Obviously the Ryder Cup's close, but if you'd won a couple majors and you'd won a few times otherwise, like Phil [Mickelson] or somebody, but we'd only won once and we'd never won a major, so obviously your major has got to be on top.
Collins: You've been with Brooks for four years now, what about him this week impressed you the most?
Elliott: I think he just stayed so patient like everybody else did. I mean his driving has been really good for the last two or three months. When we came Monday a week ago to see the course, we just thought, right, it's obviously not a bombers course ... He's done quite well at the British Open and things ... he's played a lot of links during the Dunhill Links, not that it was particularly linksy, but it had that feel ... so playing courses over there has helped him.
Collins: Where have you ever seen Brooks get really excited?
Elliott: ... The Ryder Cup was the first time I ever seen him punching the air and stuff like that. So that week playing with Sneds [Brandt Snedeker] really brought him to a new level I think. Because he realized how excited Sneds was, and I felt like, "Alright, I need to be a wee bit more vocal and a wee bit more like Sneds whenever I'm caddying for him." He played off Sneds and just the Ryder Cup really ... That's the most excited I've seen him by a long way!
Collins: Did you change the way you caddied after that?
Elliott: I just thought I needed to be a little more upbeat with him. Try not to be him ... and be a little more like Sneds. [Pauses and gets a smile on his face.] Sometimes he'll tell me to shut up! [Makes everyone laugh] He's like, "Alright, I've got it dude." And I'm like, "Well I'm only trying to help you." [Everyone standing around is cracking up.]
Collins: When you look back on this week, what's the one hole where you'll think, "Yeah, that one is where it happened."
Elliott: Um [thinking back]; there were a couple of things. We hit a bunker shot on [No.] 4 Friday. It was 130 to the pin or something, and he's hit it really knuckly out of the bunker. It's landed at the back of the green, hits the sprinkler heads and it's held up [just barely off the green.] Popped up and stopped! It wasn't going very hard, but it was going down the slope [but didn't]. And then we went for 14 [the par-5] one day and he sliced it way right. We thought it was in the bushes. We were nearly in the little river down there. I didn't even know there was one down there! It [the ball] was in the hazard, but it just stayed up. So obviously it's little things like that. You can play brilliant, but if you don't get little breaks like that, it's double-bogey or whatever, and that might just end your week.
Collins: It sounds crazy to say out loud, but you're gonna get a check for over $200,000! What's the first thing you'll do?
Elliott: Uh ... 12 pack of Heineken!
Collins: Get the big ones!