Over the years a few unknown golfers have left their mark on the Champions Tour. Some have come from overseas; Stewart Ginn and Simon Hobday won a couple of Senior majors while they were in the states. Quite a few PGA club pros did some damage and created some excitement after they qualified for the tour. Jim Albus, Lairy Laroetti, and Tom Wargo all won their share of tournaments and appealed to the underdog rooters. Recently Lonnie Nielson has picked up the slack for the aging club pros.

We’ve also had a few guys who played briefly on the PGA Tour and then went into other businesses. Jim Ahern beat Hale Irwin in a playoff; who had ever heard of Jim before then. But only once has a lifelong amateur qualified for the Champions Tour and made a career of it. Jay Sigel, two time U.S Amateur champion and long time Walker Cup member has established himself on the tour over the last fifteen years.

Now there’s a new amateur, Jim Roy, and it looks like he’s going to do some damage. He called me Monday morning, woke me from my sleep somewhere around Chattanooga, and confirmed he wanted me on the bag. His excitement and enthusiasm is contagious, just the thing I need to get me out of this caddy funk. His accolades aren’t the size of Sigel’s but he can putt with the best of them. He still plays those little kid games on the putting green like we all used too when we were growing up.

He imagines himself standing on the seventeenth tee box with a three shot lead over Watson and Couples on Sunday afternoon. It’s contagious and he’s rubbing off on me. We’re going to have a lot of fun and make some money out here. Once he gets comfortable, plays in the last few groups on the weekend a couple of times, Langer, Watson, Haas and the boys will have to pay attention.

You never know what will happen in golf. This looks like it’s going to be fun to follow and standing next to an inexperienced rookie will be a new challenge for me. We’re in Newport Beach this week and he says the course reminds him of the one he grew up on back in Syracuse, NY. About every other hole during the Monday pro-am he gazed out over the layout and sighed, “God, I love this course. We’re going to have a great week.”

There’s a look in his eye you can’t quite explain, part child enthusiasm and another part grizzled determination, I think. That combination is going to suit him well out here. Now, if his caddy can lead him around these new tracks, we’ll be in good shape. I’ve been around this course too many times to remember and garnered a win with Murph in 1997 after a nine hole playoff with Jay Sigel. A couple of pro-ams and a practice round will be just the tune up Jim needs.

Keep an eye on him it’s going to be interesting.

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