DAVID Howell has spoken of his delight for his former caddie Jason Hempleman, the Swindon bagman who enjoyed a memorable Ryder Cup debut in Illinois over the weekend.
Hempleman carried Howell’s clubs for several years prior to the Broome Manor professional’s first appearance in the biennial trans-Atlantic showdown but never got the chance to go to the event with the Swindonian, as the pair went their separate ways just a matter of months before the 2004 tournament.
However, Hempleman caddied for Italian Francesco Molinari at this year’s edition of the competition at the Medinah Country Club in the suburbs of Chicago and had the joy and honour of walking down the 18th fairway on Sunday evening to the roar of the European crowd, safe in the knowledge the visitors from across the pond had retained the famous trophy courtesy of their 14.5-13.5 win.
Howell was ecstatic to see his friend and ex-colleague get the opportunity to finally grace one of the biggest stages in global sport.
“He came close to coming to a Ryder Cup with me all those years ago but that didn’t happen in the end as we split up four months before the event,” he told the Advertiser.
“Jason is a career caddie, he’s done a lot and it was lovely to see him finally get his chance to be there at a Ryder Cup and experience it.
“And to have been right in the heart of it all walking down the final hole with the prospect of winning it outright still there must have been a big thrill.
“I have texted him my congratulations.”
Howell was left stunned by the European performance at Medinah, which saw Jose Maria Olazabal’s side turn over a four-point overnight lead going into the singles matches on the final day to claim victory.
The 37-year-old branded the event as the best he has ever seen. “There are not enough superlatives to describe it.
It was the most amazing Ryder Cup ever, just an incredible comeback,” he said. “It really was a story of two halves. Everything seemed to be going for the Americans over the first two days, everything was dropping and then suddenly it all switched.
“Ian Poulter’s performance on Saturday afternoon was probably the catalyst for all of it, and those two wins were so important.
“Then they came out on Sunday and got off to a great start, started putting pressure on the Americans and it told.
“Poulter was at the front again to turn his match around and then there were the two moments of individual brilliance from Justin Rose on 17 and 18.
“(Phil) Mickelson was playing solidly, and hitting pars, but that huge putt on 17 from Justin was extraordinary.
“People might get the gist of what it feels like but I don’t think you can really understand the pressure that’s involved.
“I couldn’t watch it right at the end when (Martin) Kaymer was lining up that putt. Much was said about him coming into the tournament but he showed that his class is permanent.
“Eighteen months ago you wouldn’t have wanted anyone else making that putt and under so much pressure he was very calm.”