Hey all,

Sorry about last week, there was nothing to write about, long travel days, and technical difficulties. This week started on top of Brockway Mountain in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, the only place in the area my phone worked. I got a call from Leah Wigger, an LPGA rookie, she needed a caddy and wanted to know if I was interested. My brother and his friend, Steve “Rubble” Shellard, were trying to line me up with Se Ri Pak and I was waiting for her call, but crippled old caddies can’t be choosers on a Sunday before the tournament. I told her I’d be there Tuesday morning and hit the road early Monday.

It wasn’t a call from Tom Watson but it was a job, and I was looking forward to spending time with family and friends in central Illinois. My brother and I grew up in Havana about 45 miles from Springfield so it was like old home week, the local newspaper even did a nice article about the caddy brothers. We caught a bunch of crap from the other caddies, remember were not supposed to be the stars, and they were all sarcastically asking for our autographs.

I had no clue who this girl was, what she looked like, or what to expect. We met Tuesday afternoon, played a quick nine and got to know each other. Watson to Wigger, that was quite the ends of the golfing spectrum, and I had to adjust a bit. Leah’s twenty-four, bright-eyed blonde from Louisville, KY with all sorts of potential and a great work ethic. We spent a cold, wet, windy Wednesday beating balls on a vacant range and her attitude on the course was great. A little feisty which is good, and able to forget about a bogey after a few choice words. She didn’t have her A-game on Thursday but managed a smooth 70 and we were one shot out of top ten. Leah got it up and down from everywhere and by the back nine I was calling her “Seve”.

The nice thing about being home is visiting old haunts. My brother Dan, Rubble, and I visited the Starship Billiards Hall, Billy’s, and the Brickhouse and enjoyed pork tenderloin sandwiches, cold Stags, and good company each night. The Cubs kept us up late one night, broke our hearts, and the local Cardinal fans rubbed it in. Boy, it’s nice to be home. A few home town friends showed up in the gallery, and it was nice to see familiar faces.

We had an early tee time Friday and Leah seemed ready. We got off to a shaky start with three early bogies but she battled back to one under which was the projected cut. She didn’t ask for a lot of help choosing clubs but I did a lot of work on the greens, mostly confirming her reads and reminding her if the putt sloped up or down. We missed a couple of makeable birdies late in the round and standing on the last tee box, a tough dog leg right wrapped around the water, we were one under, the projected cut. There wasn’t much to say on the tee, she had just striped her last three drives, and she teed it up with confidence.

I’m not sure where the duck hook came from but it ended up in the left rough a long way from the hole. After gathering the yardage and checking the lie, it was okay, she looked at me and said, “There’s more than one way to make par, watch this.” She was beaming with confidence, pulled out her rescue club because laying up was not an option, we needed a par to make the cut. Everything looked good and felt right at the moment, but for some reason the ball shot straight right over the water and out of bounds. We collected ourselves, hit a provisional just in case, but realized we had just missed the cut.

The good-byes in the parking lot were difficult, you get to know someone very quickly on the golf course, and Leah showed a lot of spunk. She fought back tears; her mother and I tried to console her. She’s going to be a good one, you can just sense it, hopefully we’ll hook up again down the road. It’s much more of a family atmosphere on the LPGA, and I was experiencing a difficult family moment.

I headed home to Havana for the weekend and wasn’t planning on working this week. Late Saturday night I got a call from M.J. Hurr’s agent. M.J., a long hitting young Korean, needed a caddy in Baltimore. I hemmed and hawed but since it’s a major and the bank account is a bit low, I took the job. A few days with Mom and Dad were nice and I’ll be able to hit the road late Sunday, it’s only a nine hundred mile drive. Who knows, I may end up over here for awhile. Oh, by the way, Se Ri finished second last week. Oh, well.

Take care.

Mark

—————————————————————————–

Hey all,

After getting the call from M.J. Hur late Saturday night, I attended a longtime friend’s funeral Sunday afternoon and hit the road for Baltimore. It didn’t look like a long drive but it added up to about 900 miles, and my van stumbled into the Havre de Grace area Monday evening. Bulle Rock CC is north of Baltimore at the mouth of the Susquehanna River and overlooks the Chesapeake Bay. It’s a beautiful Pete Dye layout, the rough was up, and it was playing long because of the rain.

Tuesday morning I walked a quick nine and met the Hur’s. The reception was rather cool, M.J. was glad to see me, but mom and dad, especially dad, didn’t seem very cordial. Everyone explained to me later that Korean parents were very protective and spent a lot of time with the kids, I didn’t realize that meant every waking hour and walking by their side during practice rounds. Whenever I would try to talk with M.J. her dad was there immediately wondering what I was saying. There would be an animated discussion in Korean, and I wasn’t allowed. It was very tense and didn’t enjoy the long days with dad shadowing his daughter.

When I say long days, they go something like this. A quick walk around the course about 6:30 and then practice from nine to seven. Tournament days they expected me to be there three hours before tee time and practice for two hours afterwards. The poor girl is worn out by the weekend, not to mention her old caddy. That sort of practice routine during a tournament is unheard of on the other tours but the Korean contingent spends a lot of time at the course.

Once the ball was in the air everything was great. M.J. was a pure joy to work for away from dad’s constant eye, and she has a lot of potential. With six holes to play Friday we were in the top ten, but three straight bogies left us tied for 28th headed for the weekend. We were luckier than my buddy Rubble. His player, ShenShen Fang, was tied for third but shot 82 on Friday, missing the cut. Golf is tough on caddies sometimes and we had to keep the sharp objects away from him over the weekend.

It was a tough week for my van. She over heated Wednesday afternoon, I limped back to Towsan where I was staying with my good friends, Terry and Brian. My brother knew some local mechanics and they took care of things, at a pretty penny, but had me going Friday afternoon. Other than having to sleep on my brother’s Red Roof Inn floor and listening to Rubble snore, things went rather smoothly. Caddying on a couple hours sleep Friday was tough but I managed. When someone’s in a jam out here everyone rallies the troops and helps out.

All week caddies were quizzing me about how things were going and what time I had to be there for my tee time. I think they were working over the rookie a bit, but I put up with the razzing. Out here I’m Dan’s brother, not Mark, but I think they are slowly accepting me. I’m just not quite sure if this is where I want to work.

Sunday we were paired with Michelle Wie and watched her hole a shot from the first fairway. The gallery was quite large, M.J. didn’t seem intimidated and I enjoyed watching the phenom. I’ve always been a Michelle skeptic, but he girl can play. She shot a couple under with two double bogies and showed a lot of class. She also let loose with a few choice expletives under her breath. It was nice to see Michelle is human, mingling a bit with spectators, and she spent a lot of time signing autographs after the round.

We ended up tied for 46th, made a little money, and the parents were thanking me profusely after the round. I think I might have won them over or M.J. convinced them I was okay. Tomorrow, Monday, is the 36 hole U.S. Open qualifier in Washington, DC at Woodmont CC. I haven’t been there since 1991 so it should be interesting. I hope the old body can make it. I”ll let you know next week if I survived.

It’s a bit different caddying on the LPGA; I’m going to have to make a few changes in my techniques if I want to continue. Right now it’s a job and this young Korean girl has that glint in her eye and an amazing work ethic. It may be fun to stick by her side for awhile, but I might have to put a shoulder into dad once in awhile. We’ll see, I know things will work out.

Take care.

Mark

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