Ki-Wie combo close to landing women's major

BEN STANLEY IN PALM SPRINGS
Last updated 05:00 09/04/2014
Duncan French, Michelle Wie
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KIWI CONNECTION: Duncan French and Michelle Wie line up a shot at the Kraft Nabisco Championship last week.

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For a decent stretch of last weekend, Duncan French looked set to join Steve Williams as the only Kiwi to caddie a golfer to victory in a major.

Wait. Duncan who? Duncan French - a 25-year-old Blenheim native, who, for the past year has held the bag for world No 24 Michelle Wie on the LPGA Tour.

Heading into the final round of the Kraft Nabisco Championship in Palm Springs on Monday, Wie sat in a tie for the tournament lead with Lexi Thompson.

Despite being one of the most recognisable figures on the LPGA tour, Wie has never won a major.

That record would stay intact this week, with Thompson carding a dominant four-under par on the last day, to leave her three shots ahead of Wie.

Thompson's victory meant French wouldn't be joining Williams, who caddied Tiger Woods to 13 of his 14 major titles - and Australian Adam Scott to his US Masters victory in 2013, as the only Kiwi to hold the bag for a successful winner at golf's biggest tournaments.

Nevertheless, French, who has caddied for Wie since last March, believes the second place in Palm Springs can act as a springboard for the in-form American.

"She has been playing great since basically after the Solheim Cup last year," he told Fairfax Media.

"It's tough coming up short here, but it's been a great week. Any major where you finish second in, you are playing great golf. She's very close to a major.

"Without a doubt, this can be a springboard. It's a great way to start, with the first major of the year.

"She has played great stuff every week this year, so it's only good stuff heading forward, I think."

French began caddying on the European Tour in 2010, before moving to the United States the following year, where he initially held the bags for his girlfriend, world No 129 Christina Kim.

Wie's former caddie, Kiwi Brendan Woolley, finished with the American last March - and French stepped into the job. French said he has enjoyed working with her.

"We've been good friends for a long time, and we get on great on the course as well," he said.

"We keep each other relaxed, and have some fun. That's the main thing out there. We get on well, that's good."

French now bases himself in Orlando, Florida, and hasn't visited home since the New Zealand Open last year.

Despite the week-in, week-out grind of caddying on the LPGA Tour, French clearly enjoys his job.

"It's great- you get to travel around, and see some great courses," he said.

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"What's not to love? It's the next best thing to playing golf, yourself. I'm loving it out here."

- Fairfax Media

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