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Female caddie does job quietly

Sunday, April 11, 2010
By David Westin
Staff Writer

Fanny Sunesson didn't even realize the significance of this year's Masters Tournament.

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Sunesson caddied for Nick Faldo when he won the Masters in 1990, the second of his two straight titles at Augusta National.

(File/Staff)

It's the 20th anniversary of Nick Faldo's second Masters victory -- but Sunesson's first as the Englishman's caddie.

"I haven't thought about that," she said of the anniversary, which also marks the only time a woman has caddied for a major championship winner.

Sunesson, who caddied this Masters for fellow Swede Henrik Stenson, keeps such a low profile that many fans assume she was on Faldo's bag when he won his first Masters in 1989.

Andy Prodger, who is caddying for K.J. Choi this week, was Faldo's caddie that year, when he beat Scott Hoch in a sudden-death playoff.

It was Sunesson who helped Faldo beat Raymond Floyd down in the twilight of Amen Corner on the second playoff hole (No. 11) for the 1990 victory.

"I can say it was unbelievable and amazing to be there and involved," said Sunesson, who was also caddying in her first Masters that year. "It's tough to describe it in words. ... It was indescribable. It's a special place."

With Sunesson on his bag, Stenson has won twice on the PGA Tour and twice on the European Tour. She is the only woman to have caddied for a major championship winner, being with Faldo at the 1990 and '96 Masters and '90 and '92 British opens.

(Jackie Ricciardi/Staff)

"It was pretty amazing to throw a young girl into this arena, and we ended up winning," Faldo said last week. "That was pretty darn good."

SUNESSON WOULD be on the bag for three more of Faldo's six championships (1996 Masters and 1990 and 1992 British Opens) and stayed with him through late 2004, when he started making his transition to television.

Did she think she broke a gender barrier by being the first female caddie to win a major championship, in 1990 at Augusta National?

"I didn't think of myself in that way," Sunesson said. "I was just doing my job, and I just happened to be a girl. "

The public doesn't know much about Sunesson, which is the way she likes it. Sunesson declines almost every interview request.

"I don't like to interview; I'm sorry," she said recently, before consenting to say a few words.

Stenson and Sunesson have worked together for 31/2 years.

(Jackie Ricciardi/Staff)

Faldo was surprised she did the interview at all.

"Oh, my God, that's a shock," he said last week. "You've got a world exclusive!"

Said Stenson: "I wouldn't say she doesn't talk to the media, but she doesn't like to go on things about the player. If the player wants to talk about their game, they will do that. I don't think that she as a person likes to be that outspoken. That's the approach she'd had since I started working with her."

Said Sunesson: "I try not to blow my own trumpet; I'm not hitting any shots."

SUNESSON MIGHT downplay her role, but other caddies know what kind of job she does.

"I rate her as a very good caddie," said Carl Jackson, who has caddied in 49 Masters, the past 34 with two-time Masters champ Ben Crenshaw. "I was out with her and Faldo a few times. They were very talkative on different strategies. Faldo had her in his game as much as I've seen anybody in his game."

Swedish golfer Henrik Stenson was reflected in the glasses of his caddie, Fanny Sunesson, on the sixth green during the second round of the Masters Tournament at the Augusta National. Stenson missed the cut with a two-day total of 11-over 155.

(Jackie Ricciardi/Staff)

Jackson also remembers how fast she walked.

"It was difficult for me to keep up with her; she was very strong," he said.

Jackson remembers when Sunesson went into the Augusta National caddyshack for the first time in 1990.

"She was well-accepted," he said. "She came in and changed (into her jump suit) right in front of everybody. She was pretty bold. I saw a lot of hips."

Twenty years later, Sunesson is considered one of the top caddies in the world.

"She's as capable as any caddie I've ever seen," Jackson said.

Said Faldo: "She's had a hell of a career out here. I knew how dedicated she was when we started. She was really committed and very professional. She really did her job. She walked the golf course (for yardages) more than anybody else. She put in the work more than average."

FALDO AND SUNESSON started working together in early 1990, leading into the Masters. Because Faldo had a new caddie for the 1990 Masters, he was able to keep his mind off his role as the defending champion.

"We'd go off and play practice rounds and I would be telling her what I want to do here and don't want to do on the course," Faldo said. "That was pretty engaging, wasn't it?"

It played perfectly into Faldo's mental game plan for the 1990 Masters.

"I said to myself about a month before I got here, 'I'm not defending; I'm just going to win another one.' I managed to trick my mind that way. Having her on the bag like that was a big help."

Sunesson and Stenson have been working together for 31/2 years (starting in October 2006). They have won twice on the PGA Tour (2007 Match Play Championship and 2009 Players Championship) and twice on the European Tour (2007 Dubai Desert Classic and 2008 Nedbank Challenge).

"It's been great," said Stenson, who was ranked 15th going into this Masters, in which he shot 80-75 and missed the cut. "I've had great success on the course over these 31/2 years, and she's obviously been a big part of it. We're working good together, and I feel lucky and very secure to have her on the bag.

"She's extremely hardworking and dedicated. She's a perfectionist. That's why she had so much success with Nick, I believe. She doesn't leave anything out. She tries to be on the ball all the time and she gets very upset with herself if she doesn't feel that she is."

STENSON, WHO TURNED 34 on Monday, was growing up in Sweden when Sunesson burst on the scene with Faldo. He knew of her reputation, but didn't meet her on the golf course until the 2000 Scandinavian Masters.

At the time, she was caddying for Australian Mark Hensby. The two Swedes -- Sunesson and Stenson -- were on different sides when they went to a sudden-death playoff.

"She had said to him (Hensby), 'OK, it's going to be one happy Swede (Sunesson) or tens of thousands of happy ones, and I want to be the happy one,' " Stenson recalls.

Hensby made a long birdie putt on the second hole to beat Stenson.

"Obviously, not the best memory," said Stenson, with his dry humor.

Six years later, Stenson hired Sunesson as his caddie. Their first event was the HSBC in 2006 in China.

They've become friends over the years.

"Yeah, we were talking about that on the course today," Sten- son said recently at the CA Championship in Miami. "Normally, we don't spend time away from the tournaments together, but when we're here, we have dinner sometimes and we've got a lot of common friends.

"We travel together sometimes and enjoy each other's company off the course as well."

Reach David Westin at (706) 823-3224 or david.westin@augustachronicle.com.

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