Caddie Ten Broeck leads U.S. Senior Open
JUL 13, 2012 8:53p ET
OK, a caddie isn't really about to win the Masters, but one is making a pretty good run at the US Senior Open.
Lance Ten Broeck, a man who makes his living handing out golf clubs instead of hitting them, leads the senior major at 6 under through 36 holes. He'll play in the final group on Saturday with first-round leader and World Golf Hall of Famer Tom Kite.
"This is really cool," he said. "I thought I had a pretty good chance of making this cut this weekend. I didn't expect to be playing with Tom Kite in the last group."
Ten Broeck hasn't led a PGA Tour event in 30 years, and has been a full-time caddie since the late 1990s. At the moment, he's spending most of his weekends carrying Tim Herron's bag and trying to fit in a little golf of his own on the side.
"I might play a couple days a week, and during tournaments, if we play in the morning, I might hit a few balls in the afternoon," Ten Broeck said. "But I'm talking about hitting about 30 balls. I'm not out there grinding for hours like a lot of these guys."
Ten Broeck hasn't had much time off, either.
"Tim's played eight of the last nine weeks, and the only week he took off, I qualified for a Champions Tour event," he said. "So this is 10 straight weeks I've been out here."
Kite's 5-under 65 had led after Thursday's round, and when he went out in a 4-under 31 on the tougher back nine Friday, it looked like the tournament might already be over. Kite, though, appeared to wilt in the 90-degree heat, and bogeyed four of his last nine holes.
"This is a hard-working golf course," Kite said. "There are some opportunities to get birdies out there if you drive it in the freeway. If you drive it in the rough like I did on my last nine holes, this course can bite you right back."
Kite's last bogey, on his 18th hole of the day, gave him a even-par 70 for the day and handed a one-shot lead to Ten Broeck. At that point, the Chicago native was in the clubhouse, trying to explain his eccentric career to gathered journalists.
After starring at the University of Texas — he was a two-time All-American — Ten Broeck thought his future was going to be as a player, not a caddie. However, after 349 tournaments had only led to a single second-place finish, and he'd finished 31st the only time he ever qualified for a major, he decided to change careers.
His biggest year as a caddie made him more money than his biggest year as a player, but he still manages to hit the ball around from time to time. In the 2009 Texas Open, he entered the tournament while planning to caddie for Jesper Parnevik. An unusually large number of late withdrawals meant he got into the field, making it the first time that someone had played and caddied in the same PGA Tour event. He missed the cut, but beat Parnevik by three shots.
Ten Broeck acknowledges that life as a full-time caddie means watching other people practice rather than being able to do it himself. That doesn't mean it has been a complete waste of his time.
"Being a caddie doesn't help my golf game, but watching so many players play so many rounds has shown me a lot of trends in the game," he said. "I can't tell you how many times I see someone make a mistake, get frustrated and then make more of them. It's a domino effect, and I try very hard not to do that when I'm playing."
Friday, he showed that early in his round. After bogeying the 14th hole — his fifth of the day — he came right back with an eagle on the next.
"You can't press, especially on a course like this," he said. "If make a bogey, and then you try to force the issue, you are just going to tack on more bogeys. Just keep playing your game.
That strategy has worked for two rounds, and now Ten Broeck finds himself leading a national championship at the midway point. If nothing else, he knows he won't lose because of exhaustion.
"I'd guess I only play 25 or 30 18-hole rounds of golf a year," he said. "I'm well rested."
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