High School Sports

Dunbar's Bishop bound for Pebble Beach

Will Bishop says he can "shoot about 60 from the back tees" at Pebble Beach when he plays Tiger Woods' video-game golf.

"It's a little easier than real golf," Bishop said, "because you never miss a shot."

Fantasy will give way to reality for the Paul Laurence Dunbar junior when he plays Pebble Beach in the Champions Tour's Walmart First Tee Open this weekend in California.

Bishop will be paired with senior tour pro David Eger on Friday and Saturday. They play at Del Monte on Friday and at Pebble Beach on Saturday.

If their pro-am team makes the cut, they'll play Sunday's final round at Pebble Beach. The tournament will be televised by The Golf Channel.

Bishop, 16, earned a spot in the Walmart Open through his participation in the Larry Gilbert Foundation/First Tee of Lexington.

This is the fourth year in a row the local First Tee has sent a golfer to Pebble Beach for the senior tour event. West Jessamine's Ashlee Rose, who now plays for the University of Kentucky, qualified in 2006 and '07. Conner Rose of Lexington Christian and Pilar Morgan of Henry Clay went last year.

Bishop was the low scorer (71-72) in the national qualifier at Shadow Valley Country Club in Rogers, Ark., in July.

"It was really awesome, knowing I was going to Pebble Beach," Bishop said.

That tournament was part of a magical July for Bishop.

He began the month qualifying for the prestigious Big I Trusted Choice Junior Classic, and he finished eighth in the national event in Oklahoma.

The highlight of Bishop's July was winning Lexington's Men's City Championship. He shot 69-70-67-71 to finish 11-under par and become the first high-school golfer in 40 years to take the title.

"I figured I could do it, but I didn't really expect to be there," he said.

Dave Bunnell, executive director of the Gilbert Foundation/First Tee of Lexington, has tutored Bishop the past five years. He isn't surprised by Bishop's strong play this summer.

"I saw Will start to click about two years ago, with the way he was able to understand and control his emotions," Bunnell said.

"He's got the capability of being as good as he wants to be. He hits it as straight as he needs to, and he's a tremendous putter."

Bishop credits Bunnell and the opportunities offered by the Gilbert Foundation for improving his game. That's why he asked Bunnell to caddy for him at Pebble Beach.

Bunnell, 62, has been preparing for the assignment by taking long walks while wearing a 20-pound backpack.

"Let's just hope they don't have a report on The Golf Channel that some old man has been carted off the course," he said with a laugh.

Barry and Allyson Bishop will also make the trip to California to watch their son.

"It should be a fun experience," Will said.

More fun than a video game, for sure.