It's been 28 years since Lance Ten Broeck won the Illinois Open at Flossmoor Country Club. And while seven winners of that title after him went on to earn PGA Tour cards, not one has had the staying power in golf that Ten Broeck has achieved.
Last week Ten Broeck was a major story in golf. A 13-year caddie on the PGA Tour, Ten Broeck returned as a player at the U.S. Senior Open and led the biggest major championship for players 50-and-over through two rounds before he finished in a tie for ninth place. That earned him $65,046.
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"I played really well, except I didn't putt well the whole week," said Ten Broeck. "Caddying is way easier than playing."
Ten Broeck was a PGA Tour winner, taking the Magnolia Classic the same year he won the Illinois Open. When his playing career fizzled, he became a caddie, working 10 years for Jesper Parnevik, two for Robert Allenby and now one for Tim Herron.
Growing up on Chicago's South Side, Ten Broeck was the youngest of eight children who grew up on the links of Beverly Country Club. One older brother, Jim, won the Illinois Amateur in 1978, and another, Rick, captured the Illinois Open twice.
They all moved away from golf, but Lance made the cut in the 1975 U.S. Open at Medinah as a 19-year-old amateur, played at the University of Texas, and then made it to the PGA Tour for a that began in 1975.
Now he's mixing caddie duties with playing on the Champions Tour. His 26-year-old son Jonathan was his caddie in the Senior Open at Indianwood in Michigan. That tourney marked Ten Broeck's 10th straight week on tour -- eight as a caddie, two as a player. At one point he stopped playing altogether.
"I got to the point, probably in the late 1990s or 2000, where I didn't play at all because I played so bad," he said.
He would consider playing more if his putting was better. At one point last week he carried both a regular and belly putter in his bag, but neither performed satisfactorily.
Still, he was co-leader with Tom Kite at the Senior Open after the second round. The next day he turned on his cellphone and had 43 text messages. He quickly put it on silent mode and played out the tournament, in which he posted rounds of 66, 68, 72 and 71.
Not bad for someone who rarely plays a round, practices only occasionally and has no swing instructor.
"Teachers are what put me off the tour," he said.
State Am finalists enter IWO
The 18th Illinois Women's Open, which begins with a pro-am on July 24 at Mistwood in Romeoville, has drawn 90 entries. They include defending champion Jenna Pearson, who will bid to become the second three-time winner of the event, joining Kerry Postillion.
Pearson's challengers among the 90 starters in the 54-hole test that runs July 25-27 include the two finalists in last month's Illinois Women's Amateur at Ravisloe, in Homewood. In that one, Elizabeth Szokol of Winnetka defeated Flossmoor's Michelle Mayer. Szokol enters Northwestern as a freshman in the fall while Mayer, the Illinois Junior titlist in 2011, is a sophomore-to-be at Illinois.
Also back after missing last year is Lincoln's Katherine Hepler. She finished third as a 15-year old amateur in the 2010 IWO.
Here and there
Ivanhoe's Jim Sobb and Biltmore's Doug Bauman will be the honorees when the Illinois PGA holds its Senior Masters tournament on July 30 at Onwentsia in Lake Forest. Those veteran club professionals deserve a tribute for their long dedication to growing the game.
The last of the qualifiers for the Illinois Amateur will be held today at Kankakee Elks and Thursday at Fox Bend, in Oswego. … The 51stNorthern Illinois Women's Golf Assn. Championship will be contest over 36 holes at Cog Hill, in Lemont on Thursday and Friday.
The Western Golf Assn. has announced its first invitees to the 110th Western Amateur, beginning July 30 at Exmoor in Highland Park. It includes 10 players from the Chicago area: Sam Bettinardi, Lemont; Blake Biddle and Stephen Powers, St. Charles; Blake Johnson, Winnetka; Kyle Kopsick, Highland Park; Bennett Lavin, Deerfield's Thomas O'Bryan, Aurora; Andrew Price, Lake Forest; Scott Rowe, Hinsdale; and Charles Waddell, Chicago
• For more golf news check out lenziehmongolf.com. Len can be reached by email at email@example.com. His column appears on Wednesdays in the Daily Herald.