Tanner Murphy, who will be a junior on the Ohio State men’s golf team this fall, served as caddie for classmate Bo Hoag last week as he played as an amateur in the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Invitational — the Nationwide Tour’s stop at OSU’s own Scarlet Course. Murphy blogged about his experience from inside the ropes throughout the event.
Unfortunately, Tanner was unable wrap up his blog after the fourth round because he hopped in a car right after the round was finished to head to Chicago to compete in a tournament himself this week. But his experience with Bo during the Nationwide Tour event will probably be a valuable one as far as seeing what it takes to compete at the next level, as well as a fun way for the life-long friends to bond over the game they love.
Bo finished the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Invitational with a solid final round of even-par 71. He took 61st place with a 72-hole total of 6-over 290.
SATURDAY (Third Round)
After a short night of sleep I arrived at the golf course just before 7 a.m. Bo met me there and we headed to the practice range to warm up for the third round. Our tee time was the first of the day which meant we could fly around the golf course. Before the round Bo and I talked about how we had to basically forget about yesterday and just concentrate on one shot at a time today, even though that would be tough after a very emotional final hole to make the cut.
Bo started off the round with another straight drive right down the middle of the fairway. He just pulled his second shot into the bunker and that lead to a bogey. On hole 2 the pin was tough which lead to a second bogey to start the round. He steadied the ship by making pars on holes 3 and 4 before going to 3 over par with a bogey on the tough 5th hole. The final holes on the front nine were all played in level par and Bo ended up with a 39 on the front.
The back nine started off well with 2 pars on 10 and 11. On the 12th hole Bo hit his best drive of the week which left him only a hybrid into the par 5. Unfortunately, there was some mud on the ball which caused his second shot to move to the right more than we expected in the air, and the ball ended up in the bunker. This bunker shot was actually in a good position though. Before Bo hit the shot, I told him that I thought it was a makeable shot, and he made an aggressive swing that looked like it was going in before it settled down a foot from the hole that lead to birdie.
Unfortunately, the next three holes were tough and Bo played them in 4-over par, which left him at 6-over for the day and the tournament. He played holes 16 and 17 very well with pars before heading to the 18th. There he drilled his tee shot down the fairway and his second shot was 165 yards to the hole. We both said that we wanted to end the day in style so he went pin seeking and hit a 7-iron pin high left, about 25 feet away. Talking about the putt I told Bo that he had to give the putt a good run at the hole and he said there was no way he was leaving the ball short. Bo finally stroked the putt and just missed it on the left. He finished the day with a 77 but showed some great heart by finishing his round strong.
FRIDAY (Second Round)
Bo’s second round started off with another great drive down the middle, this time on the 10th hole. However, on his second shot the wind was howling and he ended up making a bogey. He steadied the round with pars on 11 thru 13 but made his second bogey of the day on the tough 14th hole. On 15 he made a really good par putt that preluded pars on 16 and 17. On 18 Bo hit a good drive in the middle of the fairway and then hit his second shot to about 20 feet for birdie. With the largest crowd of the week on the 18th green Bo rolled in the birdie putt which was followed by a loud cheer with many people yelling his name.
The back nine started off a little rough with a double bogey on 1 as he pulled his drive left and then flew his third shot just over the back of the green. Bo then made par on 2 and made a huge 20 foot par putt on number 3 to keep his overall score at 2-over par. With pars on 4 and 5, Bo stuck a 9-iron with his third shot on No. 6 and sank a 10 foot birdie putt to get a stroke back. On hole 7, Bo had about an 8 foot putt for birdie but just missed it, primarily because of a spike mark right in front of his ball.
After a par on 8 it all came down to the last hole. I knew the cut was at even par and that we needed to birdie No. 9 to play on the weekend, but I wasn’t sure if Bo knew where he stood. Earlier in the week I asked him if we got in this same situation if he wanted me to tell him what the cut was going to be, and he said that he would ask me if he wanted to know. So I just kept my mouth shut and went about the hole like it was just another golf hole.
Bo hit his drive a little right but missed the bunker. We tried to keep the mood relaxing by telling some jokes and just having fun, I mean we were on the last hole of a Nationwide Tour event with the chance to make the cut, how much more fun can it get! We approached the second shot and saw he had a good lie and great angle at the pin. We finally decided to hit a full pitching wedge into the green and Bo made a great swing and the ball made its way to about 6 feet for birdie, and the crowd went wild.
As we looked over the final putt the atmosphere was tense. I just tried to be positive telling Bo to just hit the putt to the back of the cup and make a positive stroke. Soon after I left Bo alone and glanced across the crowd to see people praying, shutting their eyes, and one man with his back turned. Looking back at that now I wish I had a camera because it was a pretty funny scene. Finally, Bo stroked his putt and it fell over the edge. Bo fist pumped and a giant cheer erupted, that lasted a good 20 seconds. Bo had made the cut on the number in his first professional tournament, and we are playing golf on the weekend, only seven shots back of the lead!
THURSDAY (First Round)
Today I arrived at the golf course around 7:45 a.m. and waited on Bo to arrive. In my spare time I went to the “caddyshack” and grabbed a couple of donuts to get me ready for the day. Soon after, Bo arrived and we headed to the putting green and range to warm up for his 9:00 a.m. tee time. After about an hour of warm up we headed to the first tee and waited for Bo’s name to be announced. At exactly 9:00 a.m. the starter announced “Bo Hoag, Upper Arlington Ohio” and Bo set up to the ball, took a look down the fairway and ripped a driver right down the middle of the fairway, the round was underway.
Walking down the first fairway it was a very relaxed atmosphere as the group was exchanging quotes from the great movie “Happy Gilmore”, mainly because we were playing with Chris Wilson and his caddy Jonathan Bowers who we have played golf with since middle school. We started off with a bogey on the first hole but Bo had just completed his first hole in a professional tournament, something very few people get to experience!
The round got back on track when he rolled in a birdie putt on number 4. Just as the ball rolled over the edge and into the cup the gallery erupted with a huge roar which Bo said later actually startled him, which is pretty funny! After the crowd quieted down I went up to him and said “that was probably the loudest cheer in the history of the Nationwide Tour”. And I still stand by that statement.
Soon after, Bo birdied holes 6 and 7 to get it to 2-under par heading to number eight. On the eighth green he had about a 30 foot putt for birdie that I thought was in but just missed on the low side. After pars on holes 9- 12, he missed the green on 13 which lead to his first bogey since the first hole of the day.
The next few holes Bo made some great up and downs to stay in red figures heading into the final hole. On 18 he hit two good shots and what I thought were his two best swings of the day. However, he left his first putt about 6 feet short leaving him a tester to shoot under par. As we read the putt we both said that it was going to be a slow putt. After discussing this, Bo gave the putt an aggressive stroke and the ball dropped, which was followed by another huge cheer from the somewhat biased local contingent. The first round was a success, and tomorrow we expect to go even lower and climb up the leaderboard.
TUESDAY (Practice Round)
Today Bo and I arrived at The Ohio State University golf course just like we have the past two years. After searching for a parking spot for a few minutes we finally found the last spot and got ready for today’s practice round. The club was surrounded by tour vans and trucks all preparing for this week’s Nationwide Children’s Hospital Invitational, creating a much different atmosphere than a normal day at Scarlet.
First, Bo went to check in for his first professional tournament, which I must say had to be a pretty cool feeling. Soon after we headed to the range to warm up for the practice round and Bo’s swing coach Don Sargent gave him some tips for the week. It was cool being inside the ropes after watching these same professionals from the bleachers the past two years at this event.
After warming up, we headed to the first tee and greeted our playing partners for the round, Colin Biles and Chris Wilson. Colin went to both Upper Arlington and Ohio State just like Bo and I, but unfortunately we missed him by one year. Colin and Chris teed off first and Bo rounded out our threesome with a drive right down the center of the fairway. The practice round, like any other practice round, was slow but Bo got in some good practice and I had some extra time to scout out the greens and the tournament pin locations. We had a good group too so it was a productive and fun afternoon. When the round ended we shook our playing partners’ hands and headed our different ways. Bo and I headed back to the practice range to get ready for the week and the great opportunity in front of us.