Shin, caddy golf's odd couple

KIRK PENTON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:26 PM ET

WINNIPEG - At first glance they seem like quite the odd couple.

She is a 22-year-old woman from South Korea. He is a 45-year-old man from Australia.

Not exactly twins.

“I feel like her grandfather,” he says.

Yet the relationship between Jiyai Shin, who co-leads the CN Canadian Women’s Open through three rounds, and Dean Herden, her caddie, couldn’t be much closer.

“We’re pretty tight,” Herden said after his boss fired a 3-under-par 69 to vault into a tie for the lead with Michelle Wie.

Just how tight? Well, they talk about pretty much everything.

“Now I don’t have a boyfriend,” Shin said, “and I told him today I’m looking for the boyfriend.”

Herden, who has been looping for the South Korean for three years, said they have many things in common even though one wouldn’t think that just by looking at them.

“We talk about a lot of stuff when we’re on the golf course. She’s just like a regular girl. She likes to talk about boyfriends and stuff like that, so it’s a lot of fun,” Herden said.

“The biggest thing that Ji and I have got in common is the fact that we don’t take it too seriously out there. We realize the fact that anything can happen. We kind of look at everything lighthearted.”

They got together only by chance, and they weren’t supposed to remain co-workers for an extended length of time. Shin travelled to Australia to play in two events three years ago, and Herden, who had been at the caddie game for 17 years, ended up with her bag when Hee-Won Han’s looper, Shaun Clews, couldn’t do it.

“I was only going to work for her for two weeks,” Herden said.

He realized early on that he had stumbled on to someone special.

“The second day I worked for her, straight away I knew she was a superstar,” he said. “On the driving range we were just hitting balls on the Tuesday, and the 150-yard sign, she hit it about six or seven times.”

Shin has won seven times in the last two and a half years, and, judging by Saturday’s events at St. Charles, Herden has no doubt played a significant role in her success.

Shin had climbed into a tie with Wie by the seventh hole, but the wheels started falling off early on the back nine. Herden told her to slow down her swing, and it was problem solved.

“I said watching Michelle’s swing for the last three days, as powerful as she goes at the ball, you can’t help not do it yourself if you’re playing with her,” Herden said. “She swings at it really hard and strong, and Jiyai might have been trying to hit it hard as well. I mentioned to her the swing looked quick, and that’s all. There’s only little tweaks like that. She’s a Rolls-Royce.”

Yes, but she has a great mechanic.

“After my second bogey he told me about my tempo, so I fixed it,” Shin said. “We’ve been working together the last three years, so he really knows my swing … he knows my everything.”

kirk.penton@sunmedia.ca


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