Prehen man Jones making a mark on the world stage
Experiencing sport at the very top level is something that the majority of us can only really dream about - but one local man is living that dream.
David Jones from Londonderry now finds himself travelling the world thanks to his job as caddy for Na Yeon Choi.
The South Korean is one of the best female golfers there is and David is thrilled to be given the opportunity to work alongside her.
“I do have to pinch myself at times when I think about what I’m actually doing,” he stated.
“It’s a fantastic opportunity for me to work with someone of this calibre at the very highest level in golf.”
So how did the former professional at Bushfoot Golf Club find himself caddying for one of the top names in the sport?
“I got a call from an old friend before last year’s Women’s British Open,” explained the former City of Derry member.
“He is Na Yeon’s coach, he is a Belfast man and knows me well from our time in the junior international teams.
“The Open was being played at St Andrews, he knew I had played there so he asked me if I would like to come over and caddy for her.
“I jumped at the chance. We hit it off really well and she ended up finishing second.
“Na Yeon wanted me to take the job on then but it just didn’t suit me as my wife was pregnant and there was no way I wanted to be away from her and my family leading up to that.
“Na Yeon was still having problems finding a caddying she could work with this year so in march she came back to me again as she knew my wife had given birth and everything was going well.
“So I decided it was too good an opportunity to turn down.
“I spoke with everyone at Bushfoot and they were brilliant with me.
“They were sad to lose me but they said it was too good an opportunity for me not to take.”
David joined up with Na Yeon on the LPGA Tour this season and has spent the last few months jetting back and forth from America to Asia.
“There is no doubt about it you get to see some wonderful places,” admitted the Waterside man.
“But it’s hard work too, you have to be prepared to put the long hours in.
“During a tournament we are usually up at 6am walking the course preparing for that day’s round.
“Then there’s practice before heading out on the course for the round.
“That evening we could be practising again and walking the course before bed time.
“All those little things make the difference.
“I need to be sure that I know the distances exactly otherwise it could be the difference between a par or a birdie which could ultimately cost the win.
“I’m very fortunate to have such a good working relationship with Na Yeon.
“She involves me in the decision making, it’s all about teamwork and we have a good rapport.
“She is such a grounded person for someone who is at the very top of her game.
“She is rated as one of the most technical gifted golfers on the Women’s Tour.
“This season she has been knocking on the door in a few tournaments so I don’t think it will be too long before she claims a big prize again to go along with the US Open she won in 2012.”
The hardest part for David is being away from his wife and young family.
He did however get to spend some time at home last week in preparation for this week’s Women’s British Open.
On Friday, Na Yeon made a flying visit to the north coast to play at Royal Portrush in preparation for this week’s competition at Royal Birkdale.
“It is difficult to be away from my family but the times at home are special,” said David, who now lives in Portstewart.
“It was good to be home this week and spend time with them all.
“Na Yeon enjoyed her round at Royal Portrush. She wanted to get a bit of practice on a links course ahead of travelling to Royal Birkdale.
“There’s a big few weeks coming up now with the final major in France up after the Open. We are hoping to finish the season off strongly.”