Sorry about last week folks, I was brain dead, out of touch with the Internet and stuck in Illinois for a couple of days. I was supposed to take off for New Jersey Sunday afternoon right after our round in Springfield but for reasons beyond my control my departure was postponed until late Tuesday afternoon. Luckily, Rachel understood. She was in the Tuesday pro-am and as long as I found her a caddy I could show up Wednesday noon. My buddy, George Assante, a Champions Tour caddy living in New Jersey filled in for a $100 and all was well.

The all night drive from central Illinois to Atlantic City was no bargain. Showing up in Philadelphia rush hour traffic Wednesday morning, I pulled over for a quick nap, and then showered at a caddy Seaview resort condo before meeting Rachel. The ShopRite LPGA Classic hiatus from the Seaview Donald Ross designed course was way too long, about four years, and the players, caddies, and spectators were all glad to be back.

It was my first trip to the southern New Jersey shore, quite peaceful, unlike the hustle of upstate New Jersey, but the folks still seemed a bit abrupt. After being in the Midwest the last few weeks it was a bit of a shock. The tournament volunteers and staff made a special effort, plus the old Donald Ross course made it feel a bit more comfortable. Any time you play a Ross course the old master creates a tranquil spot where you can escape for a few hours. Even without seeing the course until Thursday, one trip around the tract with my Lucas yardage book I felt like I’d been playing there for years.

Rachel had a bit of a cold so our practice days were interrupted with sniffles and sneezes. During the round her pre-shot routine was usually a swat of the ever present green flies and trip to the bag for a Kleenex. It was struggle but she battled her sinuses, managed a 69 on Friday and a 73 Saturday making the cut by one stroke.

We were paired with Ai Miyazato Friday. It was a pleasure watching the diminutive young lady work her way around the course. She never missed a fairway and her slow, powerful swing created some drives pushing 275-280 yards. She eventually won the tournament and took over number one in the world. Yani Tseng, another top ten player in the world, was our third member. Her swing speed approaches that of male professionals and she basically overpowers the short LPGA courses. The two youngsters left quite an impression on this old caddy.

I could caddy Donald Ross courses every day and this one nestled on the Atlantic Ocean shore was a true gem. It wasn’t long, it wasn’t tricked up and it was fun to play with the gusty crosswinds, rolling greens, narrow fairways and thick rough. The layout stretched along the coastline weaving in and out of the trees overlooking the Atlantic City skyline. I never ventured across the sound keeping all my pay check this week.

We teed off fairly early Sunday morning in twosomes. It was hot, the humidity was high and I was soaked before we left the practice tee. Twosomes are a sprint and they don’t allow any time for rest during a round. You have to judge your water intake carefully because there’s no time for a potty break, hopefully your sweating everything out. The heat and humidity helped Rachel’s cold, we birdied the first two holes, but just as I was thinking about that 64 or 65 round the Golfing Gods reared up handing us a bogey on the par 5 third hole. You can never get ahead of yourself in this game, I should have learned by now. We did manage a 68, moving up about twenty spots finishing tied for 35th.

After a sweaty lunch in the clubhouse and a quick caddy shower in the parking lot I was off to Rochester, NY. Once I was off the Pennsylvania Turnpike and travelling the back roads crisscrossing the Susquehanna River the U.S. Open started to heat up. Usually I’d pull over at a local watering hole and watch the broadcast but for some reason seeing the train wrecks at Pebble Beach wasn’t appealing. Driving through the mountains and listening on XM radio was enough. We see plenty of mishaps on the golf course; I wasn’t in the mood to watch Dustin Johnson’s collapse plus next week’s tournament is a major and preparation starts early Monday morning.

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