IN A SURPRISE move Irish caddy Dave McNeilly has turned down an offer to work with former double US Open champion Retief Goosen to continue caddying for Spanish sensation Alvaro Quiros.
McNeilly revealed his decision soon after Quiros muscled his way into contention for a second straight Tour success in the Castello Masters in Spain.
The Belfast caddy teamed with the 25-year old Quiros to win last week’s Portugal Masters in what was to be the first of a two-week stint with the Cadiz-born player before joining Goosen for next fortnight’s HSBC Champions event in Shanghai.
“I spoke to Retief straight after our round and he was great and said he understood my decision,” said McNeilly.
“Alvaro is such a talented player and he’s got enormous potential and besides we just got on so well last week in Portugal.
“I said last week he’s a superstar in the making, so I’m now looking forward to enjoying many more victories alongside Alvaro.”
Quiros last week banked the biggest pay cheque of his short pro career with his €500,000 windfall lifting him to 94th and inside the top-100 on the world rankings for the first time.
And now that McNeilly has agreed to say on the affable Spaniard could not be happier.
“I’m over the moon Dave is going to caddy for me,” said Quiros.
“He’s a very good caddy and he’s caddied for some of the best in the game including (Pádraig) Harrington, (Niclas) Fasth and he also worked for Seve (Ballesteros), Nick Faldo and Nick Price so he has plenty of experience,” said Quiros.
“But it’s just so easy to play 18 holes alongside him and you can discuss anything you like with him so much so that the round just goes so fast.
“I was speaking with Angel Cabrera about Dave and I was spending about four hours and 30 minutes each day last week alongside Dave but it just felt like we’d been out on the course for half that time.
“He’s a very interesting caddy because he had me laughing so much last week but then he also kept me so focussed.”
Whilst Quiros eyes a second straight victory, Rory McIlroy also put himself in frame for a first Tour win after carding a four under par 67 to end the day in a share of 10th place on seven under par.
McIlroy birdied his 16th and 17th holes to end the day just four behind the leading trio of tournament host Sergio Garcia (65), Denmark’s Soren Kjeldsen (67) and England’s and reigning Irish Open champion Richard Finch (66).
Garcia birdied three of his closing six holes before Finch and Kjeldsen each bogeyed their last hole.
McIlroy walked from the scorer’s hut with both arms raised declaring: “At last! At last! I’ve broken three under so I’m sorry about that.” The 19-year old Irishman began his round with a bogey and then managed three birdies from his eighth to 13th hole prior to ending with back-to-back birdies.
“It’s nice to shoot to lower than three under because it seems such a long time I’ve done that but I played really nicely today.
“I’m just hitting a lot of fairways and also a lot of greens and whilst it’s nothing special, it’s reflected in my scores.
“I haven’t shot above 70 since the third round of the Dunhill Links so I’m very happy.”
Ireland’s three other competitors in Spain missed the cut with Paul McGinley recording a pair of 72s whilst reigning Spanish Open champion Peter Lawrie also missed the cut with scores of 71 and 74.
McGinley and Lawrie will remain in Spain to contest next week’s Volvo Masters whilst Gary Murphy’s season ended with two rounds of 74.
He will return to competition for the November 20 starting UBS Hong Kong Open, the second event on the 2009 Race to Dubai schedule.
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