Lindy Duncan shining at Meijer LPGA Classic with a 17-year-old on the bag

BELMONT, Michigan — When Lindy Duncan strolled into the clubhouse with the lead through two rounds of the Meijer LPGA Classic, she (...)

Lindy Duncan shining at Meijer LPGA Classic with a 17-year-old on the bag

BELMONT, Michigan — When Lindy Duncan strolled into the clubhouse with the lead through two rounds of the Meijer LPGA Classic, she wasn’t accompanied by a longtime confidant carrying her bag like so many other pros.

Instead, it was 17-year-old Aubree Crane, who met Duncan less than a week ago.

“I was busy at tournaments so my dad called the caddiemaster [at Blythfield Country Club] and told them a little about me,” Duncan said. “I’m a bit on the quiet side and they recommended Aubree.”

The 17-year-old Rockford High School student normally caddies at Blythfield to make some extra cash when she’s not in class. Though Duncan reads her own greens and picks her own clubs, Crane has been a welcome addition to her team.

She’s watching one of the most successful streaks in Duncan’s career too. After two rounds she holds the lead at 11 under. The South Floridian is in search of her first win on the LPGA Tour. So this weekend in West Michigan could be memorable for both of them.

“It really has been surreal, I don’t think it’s really hit yet,” Crane said. “Like this is the big leagues, this is really serious, but I’m sure it will sink in later.”

Lindy Duncan (right) poses with her caddy Aubree Crane. (Photo by Will Kennedy/Holland Sentinel/USA Today Network)

In Friday’s second round, Crane was right by Duncan’s side as she shot 7 under, totaling eight birdies along the way. One of those birdies, on the par-4 16th hole, she sank from about 20 feet out.

It was a bit of a rollercoaster going on in Duncan’s head when the ball came off the face of the putter. But when it dropped in the cup it helped give her a strong push to finish the rest of the round.

“It was rolling and I was joking with one of the other caddies after because I said, Go and then I said, Sit and then I said, Go, and it just dropped,” Duncan said. “The crowd there gave me a really nice cheer, so that felt great.”

The ovation the crowd gave Duncan is something that Crane will never forget. She said every moment she’s spent on the course this week has been like a dream that she doesn’t want to wake up from.

The coolest part though has been seeing the world’s best golfers up close and personal. While her family, friends and other Blythfield caddies are on the outside of the yellow ropes, she’s on the inside.

“I’ve been able to see and meet some really cool people this week,” Crane said. “Just being really involved has been so cool, it’s much more than I could have ever imagined it to be.”

So with 36 holes to go for the unlikely pair, they’re feeling confident heading into the weekend. Duncan said she knows she’s playing well right now and hopes she can sustain it for a couple more days.

But when she inevitably goes through some tough times on the course, she’ll just power through it. If her caddy can carry a bag that’s as big as she is for four hours a day, then Duncan can overcome a bad shot here or there.

“She’s just a great person to be out there with,” Duncan said. “She’s tough, she’s carrying this bag, got blisters on her feet, she doesn’t complain about anything.”

—Contact Assistant Sports Editor Will Kennedy at Follow him on Twitter @ByWillKennedy and Facebook @Holland Sentinel Sports.

Source : Golf Week More   

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U.S. Open leader Richard Bland, 48, wants to 'give those gym-goers a run for their money'

Playing in the U.S. for just the second time, Richard Bland shot a Friday 67 to take the clubhouse lead at the 121st U.S. Open.

U.S. Open leader Richard Bland, 48, wants to 'give those gym-goers a run for their money'

SAN DIEGO – As Englishman Richard Bland walked from one media stop to the next after shooting a second-round 67 at the 121st U.S. Open, he smiled and said, “Rory has to do this week in, week out, huh?”

That would be Rory McIlroy, the former World No. 1 and four-time major winner who is one of the faces of golf and usually in demand for the post-round car wash of media obligations. But this week he’s looking up at Bland, a 48-year-old journeyman pro playing in the U.S. for just the second time and his fourth major championship. All of this was new to Bland, who made 478 starts on the European Tour before becoming the oldest first-time winner on the circuit last month at the Betfred British Masters.

That victory combined with a third-place finish in Denmark helped book a spot in the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines and Bland is taking advantage, following up a 1-under 70 on Thursday by carding seven birdies in a round of 67 on the South Course and becoming the surprise clubhouse leader by one stroke over South African Louis Oosthuizen. If it holds up, he will be the oldest 36-hole leader in U.S. Open history.

But Bland didn’t sound surprised to be in the trophy hunt. “When I saw this place on Monday, it kind of set up to my eye,” he said. “It’s all there just straight in front of me, and that’s the kind of golf course I like. I thought, I can play around here.”

In his Twitter bio, Bland states that he is a European Tour professional golfer during the week, the joke being that he’s taken a few too many weekends off over the year. It was just two years ago, at age 46, that Bland missed so many 36-hole cuts that he was demoted to the Challenge Tour, the minor league circuit of the European Tour. But he never gave up and ignored the signs that he might be washed up. He still believed that he could regain his form and eventually win, and he did just that.

U.S. Open: Leaderboard | Photo gallery

“What am I going to do, go and get an office job? I’m not that intelligent, I’m afraid,” he said. “The old saying is you get knocked down seven times, you get up eight. I’ve always had that kind of attitude that you just keep going. You never know in this game, you just keep going.”

His joy after beating Italy’s Guido Migliozzi with a par on the first playoff hole was something to behold and it became one of the feel-good stories of the year. Only Malcolm MacKenzie had played more European Tour events (509) before winning his maiden title. The response on social media, with the likes of Fred Couples and Lee Westwood sending congratulations, overwhelmed Bland.

Richard Bland waves after his putt on the ninth green during the second round of the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines Golf Course. Mandatory Credit: Michael Madrid-USA TODAY Sports

“I’m just a guy who’s won a golf tournament really, when you boil it down,” he said. “But as it all sunk in, I think it was just more satisfaction than anything that I kind of got what I’ve always wanted. I want more. Every golfer wants more. Hopefully I can do it again.”

Perhaps his caddie, Australian Kyle Roadley, summarized his bosses perseverance best.

“A lot of tenacity, a lot of hard work, there’s a lot of guys that come and go in this game and to stick at it for as long as he has, hats off to him,” he said.

A spot in the U.S. Open – just his fourth major in his career, one per decade beginning with the 1998 British Open – was among the spoils of victory but he still floated in under the radar. He doesn’t even have a sponsor for his ball cap, sporting the logo of his home club, The Wisley Club in Woking, England, which gave him 10 hats to wear this week.

“So, if anyone is offering,” he said with a smile.

Don’t be surprised if he shows up with a sponsor by his Saturday tee time. His rhinoceros headcover also is telling, part of a charitable commitment in which he donates money for every birdie he makes to an organization called Birdies4Rhinos.

“Two things I can’t stand is three-putting and animal cruelty,” he said.

The putter behaved on Friday. Starting his round on hole No. 10, Bland carded birdies on five of his first eleven holes and climbed to 6 under for the championship before giving a stroke back at No. 8. It made for an easy day on the bag for the man nicknamed Roach.

“He knows what he’s doing,” Roadley said. “I’m just out there peeling bananas and telling him where the wind is, pretty much.”

U.S. Open

The caddie for Richard Bland holds the sixth green pin flag during the second round of the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines Golf Course. Mandatory Credit: Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

Roadley is 53 and was on the bag last year when Finland’s Sami Valimaki, 22, won the European Tour’s Oman Open. But he got canned because Valimaki wanted a caddie more his age that he could relate to. Roadley began working for Bland in December during the tour’s South African swing and said they were just a pair of graybeards giving it their best.

“Rolling back the years, baby, that’s what it is all about,” Roadley said.

In a year where Stewart Cink won at 48 and Phil Mickelson became the first 50-year-old to claim a major, Bland said he was going to “give those gym-goers a run for their money.”

His confidence is high and he’s finding fairways, something that he’s been doing with regularity since a driver change last month. Bland spent some time last week with his golf coach, longtime Sky Sport TV reporter Tim Barter, who he calls the best coach in the game.

“In golfing terms, we just kind of speak the same language,” Bland said. “He’s part of the furniture. Just took me 20 years to listen to him.”

Listen up, golf fans, it took Bland 478 events to win the first time. Who says it can’t take just four to win a major?

Source : Golf Week More   

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