Damn you, Tiger Woods; its all your fault. Tuesday, you, me and Bubba (Watson) are joking around on the putting green and everything is fine and dandy. By Saturday night after following you around the course, my best moment at a U.S. Open has now been replaced - and I'm not in this one! At least the second one you were in, but at I was too. Now that's even thats third.
Let me explain. My previous favorite U.S. Open moment was caddying in Pinehurst, first time its held there since Payne Stewart won. Im caddying for Omar Uresti and in spite of him putting a spike through one of my Nikes before the second 18 we made it through the qualifying and got in.
We had practice rounds with Justin Leonard one day, whos a lot funnier than they show on TV, and David Duval (with his dad Bob telling funny stories from his days on tour walking with us) talking fishing and telling jokes about Ben Wallaces afro.
This was setting up to be a special week for me. Then, of course, Thursday comes and so does the carnage. Let me tell you before they started that graduated rough, the U.S. Open really sucked (Corey Pavin exception) for short straight hitters, of which Omar is. That was because short straight hitters normally only miss the fairways by a yard or two and in Opens past that was the worse place to miss. So by the time were coming down the last three holes we are gonna HAVE to par in.
I just got off the phone with Omar (hes here in Hartford this week, and were setting up movie times for the week but that's a whole nother addiction) to make sure I tell it right. The 16th is a devastatingly long par 4, about 490 yards playing a little downhill, but even after a good drive we still had a 4-iron into a green about as soft as Nancy Grace interviewing one of the Texas cult mothers.
With a middle left hole, I tell O, front of the green, let it release. He hits it perfect. -- 25 feet for birdie. But we dont need birdies, just birdie putts. He two-putts for par, ONE DOWN! next up, the par-3 17th, uphill about 200 yards, front right hole, Anywhere but front right bunker is the place to be. Well y'all already know where this ball is going as Im screaming, GET UP! GET UP, PLEASE, BABY!!!
Sometimes players, after hitting a shot like that, will put their chin on their chest and as a caddie you know bogey is coming because in the player's mind theyve already made bogey. But this time O is walking with his head up at a much faster pace than I was used to. We get to the bunker, good lie but short sided with the green sloping away. He hits as good a shot as could be asked from there, 15 feet for par. He brings me in on the read and I give him the line. He strokes it exactly over the spot I said and on the final rotation... BINGO! TWO DOWN, ONE TO GO!!
The 18th is a relatively easy tee shot for a U.S. Open -- wide(r) fairway, but the second shot is to a right pin tucked between ridges. No problem, front of the green, uphill putt for bird from 20 feet. I can take a deep breath, when, OOOOOOOOPS. O hits it 4-and-a-half feet by! Now weve got a downhill slider, left-to-right to make the cut on the number (as we were some of the final threesomes on the course). I gotta find some Kaopectate....
I get called to look at the putt. Ill skip the drama and tell you he made the putt because my favorite moment came the next day. The way the cut worked out, we were the last ones in on the number and because of that we were playing first off ALONE on Saturday.
We get to the first tee on Saturday morning and the stands are packed. I see O is a little anxious, and so am I, but there is a microphone on a stand next to the tee. This is a dangerous thing for a stand-up comedian to see. An older (late 50s) man wearing a bow tie walks up to the mic, does some announcements and welcomes, then tells the crowd about turning off any cell phones that were inadvertently brought in. Time to pounce! I grab the mic from this poor man and say, Unless youre a good looking girl, in that case my number is 717...
The crowd roars with laughter seeing a caddie, in bib and all, do such a thing. Then the man says one more thing and uncomfortably walks two steps away from the mic... MY TURN AGAIN! I walk back up to the mic and say, And how about a warm welcome for our starter?! (applause) Orville Redenbachers brother, Wilbur! The place went nuts. Omars sitting on a fold-out chair, bent over laughing; the State Troopers who were standing around had their hands on their knees with tears coming out of their eyes as the starter ran into the tent to hide from the crowd, which made it even funnier.
But the best part: Omar piped driver right down the middle and I got to spend the day, just me caddying and my friend playing the U.S. Open by ourselves on Saturday morning getting standing ovations, talking about everything and nothing, having a blast.
I was almost disappointed that we played too good. We passed many men that day and had to play with another pro Sunday, but by the time we finished Saturday coming up 18, we were the talk of the course for what we did at the first tee to the starter. During a tournament where there are very few smiles, my friend and I skipped into a Saturday sunrise.
And that was my favorite moment in golf until I followed Tiger on Saturday for XM witnessing and calling the eagle at 13, the chip-in birdie at 17, and the eagle at 18. I literally went crazy on the air (you should hear the blooper reel: they mix my call with a Spanish broadcaster calling a soccer goal) but thats because when it comes down to it, Im a fan first. Now I know what people who saw Bobby Jones in person win a major felt. But daggone, now hes even taking MY moments! And if this week in Hartford is even half of the finish Jay Williamson and Hunter Mahan put on last year, Im gonna need a medivac.
Editor's note: Michael Collins has been a stand-up comedian for 15 years and has more than seven years experience as a professional caddie. He currently covers the PGA TOUR as a correspondent with XM Satellite Radio and takes his turn on The Turn Mondays on GOLF CHANNEL.
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