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Reunions At Senior PGA

Tom O’Neill

Reunions Senior PGA

By Tom O’Neill

          St. Joseph resident Paul Rooker has tried to stay in contact with many of his fellow teammates from the University of Alabama golf team over the years. A recent call took him by surprise when asked if he would be interested in caddying in the Senior PGA.

            The call came from 1976 U.S. Open champion Jerry Pate. “We’ve stayed in contact off and on,” said Rooker. “When he asked me to caddy I said sure.”  Rooker added that Pate called him two or three times just verifying he was ok with caddying. It’s been over 40 years since the two were teammates in Tuscaloosa.

            Pate was an eight-time winner on the PGA tour, but nowadays, picks and chooses his tournaments on the Senior Tour. He oversees several businesses in the south as part of the Jerry Pate Company. The 61-year old owns a golf cart company, designs golf courses including Alabama’s Ol’ Colony Golf complex, a Toro franchise and Wassau Farms which supplies turf.

            Members of his pro-am team enjoyed the opportunity to play with him. Bill Pleasants saying, “We’re having lots of fun. He’s a real nice guy and a businessman. This is a side game to him.” Bryce Henke added, “he’s not intimidating. He’s helped us with our putting,” then laughed saying, “there’s not enough time to fix our swings.”

            Another St. Joseph resident, Eric Toth, has had a house guest for the last three tournaments held at Harbor Shores. Tim Thelan has his Mercedes Benz parked in Toth’s driveway in South St. Joseph.

            “I knew him as a club pro in Texas, explained Toth. He’s been at Westin Lake and Baywood Country Club to name a few. A graduate of Houston Baptist University, the 54-year old was a teammate of Colin Montgomerie.

            Thelan spends much of his tour time on the European Tour. He has four wins on that tour and 12 professional wins. His wife, Lucinda, is his caddy.

            A short chat with Jesper Parnevik on the 10th tee revealed that he has Ryan Cochran on his bag. Cochran, a great player himself, is usually carrying for his father, Russ. The elder Cochran has been a regular on the Senior Tour.

            Ryan offered to talk about his experiences this week, so keep reading Mailmaxonline for this and other interesting stories from Harbor Shores.

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