SILVIS, Ill. – Bill Murray holed his final putt on the 18th green to what was probably the loudest ovation of the day at the John Deere Classic.
This was shortly after missing his first attempt low and chucking his putter into the bunker. This was immediately after pointing to the lake and demanding to know, “Which one of you knunckleheads drove your tractor out there?” And this was just before kicking playing partner D.A. Points’ bag for no apparent reason.
Asked why he took part in the Deere’s Wednesday pro-am, Murray answered: “The cash.”
Asked again, he answered: "[Tournament director Clair Peterson’s] grammar has really improved. The sentence structures are really promising.”
The real answer is that almost 30 years ago, “a fella” – Murray doesn’t know who – sent him a baseball with the signatures of what Murray thinks were the 1945 Chicago Cubs. The guy told Murray, a Chicago native, that he “didn’t have to say thanks or anything,” he just had to come play the Quad Cities Open.
For reference, this event hasn’t gone by that name since 1985.
“I’m not as organized as I intend to be in the future,” Murray explained.
After a long enough wait, he finally made it, entertaining the fans alongside Points and three amateurs, one of whom sheepishly invited Murray for a post-round beer. Murray, unfortunately, had to go, although he has turned event crashing – be it college parties, kickball games, or engagement photos – into his own cottage industry, so there’s still hope for the rest of you.
For Murray, standard practice while exiting the course was to take a fan offering on the right, sign it while turning to the left, and then chuck it over his head, back in the direction of whoever handed it to him in the first place.
At one point he was confronted with a fan who opened his shirt for an autograph. Murray signed a large “X” across the man’s chest.
“He’s as accommodating as anyone I’ve ever seen,” Peterson said. “He’s been like this all day.”
As for his playing partner, Points and Murray have a successful history together. Points won the AT&T Pebble Beach in 2011, as he and Murray, who were introduced by a mutual friend, teamed to take the pro-am title. Points’ mother has a working theory that Murray loosens up her son on the golf course.
“Well, this is a woman that’s just been released saying these things,” Murray said, “so I think [she] loosened him up quite a bit herself.
“But I think in terms of playing in a pro-am, I think it’s difficult for pros to go out there with amateurs who live and die with every shot, like their game becomes more important than yours when you’re playing for money and your livelihood.”
For his part, Points went out of his way on multiple occasions to laud the 64-year-old actor’s athleticism. Murray has been dealing with some knee issues for the last few years that have kept him from playing his best, but according to Points, “When he hits the ball solid, it’s flushed. It sounds as good as me hitting one – or Tiger Woods hitting one.”
“He always seems to play the hardest holes really well,” Points added, launching into a story about a birdie Murray made on No. 4 thanks to what was described as a 275-yard drive down the right-center of the fairway and a 56-degree wedge.
Just one hole later, with his caddie/driver/bodyguard chauffeuring him around, Murray, the driver and their cart all cleared under a gallery rope, while the clubs attached on back did not.
“They sort of boomeranged and whipped. It could have been a decapitation,” Murray said. “But instead, we’re just so happy to be here having some bottled water.”
One reporter suggested it would have made a great scene for "Caddyshack".
“You sound like the guy who wrote 'Caddyshack II',” Murray replied.