Carlos Tevez is no stranger to the golf course — he spent a lot of his time on one while on a five-month strike from Manchester City last season.
The round he had on Sunday, however, was one he’ll never forget.
On a glorious morning at Royal Lytham & St. Annes, the Argentina striker caddied for countryman Andres Romero in the final round of the British Open.
This was no pro-am. This was golf’s oldest and most famous tournament.
”The chance to walk along the course and be around these great players is a pleasure and something unforgettable,” Tevez said.
After Romero shot a 77 in his third round Saturday to drop out of contention for the title, Tevez visited the house of the No. 109-ranked player and asked if he could carry his bag in the fourth round. The pair have been friends since meeting at the 2008 British Open at Royal Birkdale.
Romero agreed to give regular caddie Anibal Nunez the day off and set out with Tevez at 8 a.m. local time in the fifth grouping of the morning, along with Chad Campbell of the United States.
Wearing a blue cap and top — and carrying a set of clubs almost as big as him — Tevez acted as a shoulder to cry on for Romero as he shot a 12-over 82 to slump to dead last in the remaining field of 83, on 18 over par.
”I couldn’t give any advice about the slopes but I just carried the bag and supported him each hole,” Tevez said. ”Andres is a professional and he knows everything already.
”We worked together very well.”
The 28-year-old Tevez was photographed numerous times on the golf course when he was on unauthorized leave from City last season, having fallen out with manager Roberto Mancini after refusing to warm up as a substitute during a Champions League match in September.
When he did return to action with the English Premier League club, he helped them win the title for the first time in 44 years. After scoring a goal in a 6-1 victory at Norwich, he celebrated by swinging an imaginary golf club.
Tevez is a 13 handicap and has played with Romero before in Buenos Aires.
But he has never carried such a heavy bag. And has no plans to attempt to become a professional golfer after he retires from football.
”No, I play just with my friends as an amateur. I don’t want to change from that,” he said. ”The golf bag hurts my shoulder too much, I prefer to play football. And my pants were very tight.”
Tevez couldn’t inspire Romero, who made four double-bogeys on his way to one of the highest rounds of the week.
”I played really badly today but he was helping me with my confidence,” Romero said. ”He did not complain at all when I asked him if he was in any pain.”
With the start of the new English football season less than a month away, Tevez was spotted at Royal Lytham & St. Annes on Saturday, signing autographs for fans. He wound up on the course a day later.
”This was the dream of everybody who plays golf. It was my first major!” he said.
Tevez isn’t the first sports star to caddie at the British Open.
In 1996, Ian Baker-Finch of Australia had a last-minute change of heart and decided to drop his TV commentary duties and enter the field at Royal Troon. He was exempt after winning the event in 1991.
However, he had already sent his caddie home having played poorly the week before. Short of options, he temporarily hired Australian tennis player Todd Woodbridge, who forged one of the most successful ever doubles partnerships with Mark Woodforde.
Things didn’t work out so well. Baker-Finch shot a 92 and retired from the tournament citing an injury.