EDMOND — Typically, they carry the bag. This week, they’re carrying the flag — metaphorically, at least.
Lance Ten Broeck and Damon Green are caddies for PGA Tour players Zach Johnson and Fredrik Jacobsen, respectively, but over the last three days in the U.S. Senior Open at Oak Tree National, they’ve been carrying the flag to represent every caddie who wants to be a player, too.
“All the caddies are sending us notes, ‘Make us proud,’ and stuff like that,” Green said. “I know they’re all following along up in Illinois at the John Deere Classic.
“Lance and I still both love to compete, and if you’re not doing it caddying, you’re doing it out here playing. I love it, even though I haven’t played very well this week.”
Ten Broeck was one of 12 players under par after the first two rounds, but struggled to a 79 Saturday, though he remains in the top 20.
An All-American in college at Texas, he made 160 cuts on the PGA Tour and earned more than $750,000, but when he passed age 40, he turned to caddying as a way to stay near the game and keep getting paid to do it.
“If I could play, I’d play,” said Ten Broeck, who has also caddied for Jesper Parnevik, Tim Herron and Robert Allenby. “I go to tour school every year, but when you’re in no-man’s-land at 43 or 44 and you don’t have a tour card, you’ve got to do something.
“I like getting 90 percent of the money instead of just 10 percent.”
Playing is still Ten Broeck’s first passion. In 2009 at the Valero Texas Open, he caddied 31 of 36 holes for Parnevik and also played in the tournament after getting a late spot as an alternate on Thursday. Both missed the cut, but Ten Broeck finished higher than his boss, using equipment and shoes he borrowed from anyone in the locker room willing to share.
He had earned the nickname Last Call Lance because of his tendency to party late into the night, and his week at the Texas Open is as well-known for his golfing as for his nighttime revelry.
“Guys bring in their instructors, mental coaches and practice 10 hours a day, and he beats half the field hung over and tired,” Parnevik said at the time.
Green never made it to the PGA Tour, but won 77 tournaments on various mini-tours. He’d like to earn his Champions Tour card, just to have the opportunity to play tournaments when Johnson is off. Green and Johnson have one of the longest player-caddie relationships on the PGA Tour, and he doesn’t want to give that up.
Green is tied for 56th entering Sunday’s final round, which would equate to about an $8,700 payday. Last place at the Senior Open makes $7,938. And that’s why Green will be at Oak Tree National on Sunday, instead of driving to Illinois to catch a charter flight to the United Kingdom, where he’ll caddie for Johnson at the British Open.
Green tees off at 8:10 a.m., and has a 1:30 p.m. flight to Illinois to catch the charter flight.
“I asked what would happen if I pulled out, and they said I’d get the missed-the-cut money, which is $2,000. Last place is $8,000,” Green said. “So if it’s that big of a difference, I need to play. Then I’ll fly over with my family and get there Tuesday night.”
Ten Broeck already has his flight set for Sunday night, and when the British Open finishes, he’ll start preparing for his next opportunity to play. He’s signed up for one of three Senior British Open qualifying tournaments on July 20.
“There are about 10 or 12 spots for each of the three tournaments,” he said. “I’m at Southerndown (in South Wales). I’ve never played the course and never will, until that day. But that’s OK.”