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Fan steps in to caddie for pro golfer after bagman injured in fall at Canadian Open | CNN

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Soaking up the thrilling climax of the RBC Canadian Open, Paul Emerson weaved his way through the crowds to get a good view of the PGA Tour stars on the fourth hole. A few bizarre developments later, he was working for one of them.

For two fleeting but fairytale holes on Sunday, self-professed “golf nut” Emerson was the star of the show at Ontario’s Hamilton Golf and Country Club, as an injury to C.T Pan’s caddie Mike “Fluff” Cowan presented an impromptu opportunity for one local fan to man the bag at his country’s national open.

With Cowan unable to continue after tripping and falling on the third fairway, Taiwan’s Pan saw his clubs picked up by Dan Reynolds, caddie for Irish playing partner Shane Lowry. World No. 33 Lowry had been hauling his own bag as Pan helped Cowan in the direction of medical support – limping past one eager-to-assist spectator in a red masters t-shirt en route.

“We heard a big tumble and a big sound when Fluff wiped out,” Emerson, a lawyer from nearby Aurora, Ontario, told the PGA Tour.

“I just said to him [Pan], ‘Do you need a hand’ and he said, ‘Yes please.’ So I helped Fluff get the bib off and threw it on and started walking up the hole.”

Heart racing, Emerson shook hands with Lowry before throwing the bag over his shoulder – unprecedented scenes that had not escaped the lenses of TV broadcasters.

It was a dream start. Emerson was one-under through one hole for his PGA Tour career after Pan curled home a brilliant birdie putt from just over 20 feet, prompting the 2020 Olympic bronze medalist to toast his new ally with a shout of “great caddie” as he plucked his ball from the cup.

“One for one Paul!” Lowry quipped, adding with a laugh: “It’s all downhill from here.”

With his phone now buzzing incessantly in his pocket, Emerson took the walk up the subsequent fairway as an opportunity to ask Pan what he required. There was only one request: ‘Stay off the greens.’

“He said, ‘I’m not very chatty’” Emerson recalled. “I was like, ‘Hey, I’ll talk as much or as little as you want.

“He’s a really nice guy – really friendly.”

Lowry’s tongue-in-cheek jibe was not entirely inaccurate, as Pan bogeyed the par-five hole.

The following fairway would mark the end of the road for Emerson’s caddie cameo, as a member of the caddie services team – Michael Campbell – arrived to take over from an accepting, albeit reluctant, Emerson.

“I said to CT, ‘Well this is your decision,’” added Emerson, whose only previous caddying experience had been for a golfer at a Canadian Women’s Open Pro-Am event.

“I didn’t really want to stop, but he took the person who has some local knowledge.”

Pan had just made back-to-back birdies when he greeted his fourth bagman of the round, Al Riddell, at the 10th tee.

Riddell, who had caddied for France’s Paul Barjon until he missed the cut, had the best possible view of Pan’s stunning eagle – a 121-yard effort that spun back into the cup – at the 12th hole.

World No. 133 Pan, a one-time winner on the PGA Tour, carded a final round one-under 69 amid damp conditions to finish in tied-35th at three-under overall, 13 shots behind champion Robert MacIntyre.

Cowan, 76, was treated for “non-serious” injuries at the clubhouse, a PGA Tour official told ESPN. CNN has reached out to the PGA Tour for an update on Cowan.

Drizzling rain made for a damp final round.

Quizzed on his plans for the rest of Sunday, Emerson said he was considering a shirt change to help allay the attention he was receiving around Hamilton Country Club. Yet come the end of Sunday, he had a strong rival for the title of most famous emergency caddie.

Having parted ways with his bagman just a week ago, homesick MacIntyre had called on the services of his 59-year-old father Dougie, head greenskeeper at a club back home in Oban, Scotland.

The duo dovetailed seamlessly as 27-year-old MacIntyre held off a flurry of big-name stars to clinch his first PGA Tour title, stamping his ticket to the US Open later this month and a $1.69 million prize cheque that he said would go towards paying off his parent’s mortgage.

“It’s unbelievable. I’m a grasscutter not a caddie,” MacIntyre senior, wiping away tears, told CBS Sports.

“Last Saturday night, I’m sitting on the couch at home and I’m [thinking], ‘Can I leave my job here? I’m busy at work.’ Eight o’clock the next morning, I’m on a flight out here and wow.”

The Canadian Open is building a reputation for throwing up storylines both beautiful and bizarre.

At last year’s tournament, home hero Nick Taylor ended the 69-year wait for a men’s Canadian golfer to win their home open with a remarkable 72-foot eagle putt, only for friend and fellow pro Adam Hadwin to be mistakenly tackled by a security guard amid the ensuing bedlam.

Hadwin laughed off the case of mistaken identity soon after, and reconnected with his former feller at this year’s tournament, posting a selfie of the duo smiling to X with the caption: “Water under the bridge!”

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