Whirlwind tour

JOHN HERBERT -- Free Press Golf Reporter

, Last Updated: 9:53 AM ET

An Australian vacation five years ago spawned a life-changing decision for Matt Bryce.

The London native never came home.

Bryce, 28, arrived on Australia's Gold Coast "to recharge the batteries'' after graduating from the University of Western Ontario. In less than a week, he landed a job as a caddie for a women's professional tournament.

He's still doing it today.

Bryce caddies for LPGA Tour player Becky Morgan of Wales and since February of this year has carried her clubs at tournaments in Japan, Australia, South Africa, France, Sweden, the U.S., Halifax, Switzerland, England and Wales. His circle of jet-setting friends includes many of the European stars on tour, including Annika Sorenstam and Laura Davies, and U.S. players such as Paula Creamer. He's also dating LPGA player Mhari McKay of Scotland, who attended Stanford University and makes her home at an exclusive golf resort in La Quinta, Calif. McKay has twice played on Europe's Solheim Cup team but this year is not a member of the team.

Bryce is currently on a two-week break from the tour visiting family and friends in Windsor and London.

His father Bill is director of education for the Thames Valley District school board. Mother Arlene Bryce-Hanson is an elementary principal at a Windsor school.

"It's my first chance to see friends and get caught up on things,'' Bryce said during his stopover in London, where he celebrated his 28th birthday on Wednesday.

After finishing his undergraduate studies at Western, Bryce said he was torn between graduate school and law school and decided to travel to Australia, with a buddy, to play some golf and have a good time. Bryce stopped at a pro shop in Australia looking for a part-time job but the local pro, who said they had no openings, told him of a European Tour event that needed caddies.

"I literally thought it was a one-week thing,'' he said.

Bryce carried the clubs for Italian player Sophie Sandollo, who asked him to caddie again the following week in Melbourne at the Australian Masters. After that, Sandollo asked Bryce to come to Florence and caddie for her in the Italian Open. He remained on her bag for the rest of the season.

"As the season went on, I made friends with a lot of the European players,'' Bryce said. "At the end of the year, another player, Johanna Head, asked me to go to Daytona (Florida) to caddie for her at Q-school.''

The next year, Bryce caddied for the Brit.

The past three years he has worked for Morgan, who has career earnings of more than $1 million US.

"We've had a really good run,'' Bryce said. "There's going to come a time I have to take a second look (at my career)."

Morgan has been among the top 30 money winners the past three years on the LPGA Tour and in the top 10 in Europe. This year she was won $117,000. The previous two years combined she won more than $900,000.

Bruce played golf on Western's team and said next to playing, being inside the ropes is the best thing.

"You feel a twinge of excitement especially on Sunday afternoons when you are in contention. There's nothing better.''

Bryce said a caddie and player must have a good relationship to be successful.

"It's more than adding numbers (calculating yardage for shots),'' he said. "I know Becky so well after three years. I know when to give her a push and when to back off. A lot of times it boils down to you trying to convince a player to hit the best possible shot. But even then, it comes down to wording, trying to convince them they have the right club or line on a putt.

"It's just a mental thing. All the girls can hit the shots. But when the gun goes off, it's who's smart enough to stay away from this shot or have the guts to hit this shot. I know what she's afraid of on a course, what she'll like or what shape of shot to hit.''

Bryce said he's also smart enough to realize he shouldn't caddie for his girlfriend.

"That is definitely a no-no. Too many relationships end too soon doing that.''


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