High School Sports

Golfers' senior year starts off at Pebble Beach

Daniel DeLuca, left, of Lexington Catholic and Will Bishop of Paul Laurence Dunbar will play at Pebble Beach on Labor Day weekend. Bishop played last year and won with pro David Eger.
Daniel DeLuca, left, of Lexington Catholic and Will Bishop of Paul Laurence Dunbar will play at Pebble Beach on Labor Day weekend. Bishop played last year and won with pro David Eger.

Daniel DeLuca got the most exciting e-mail message of his life five weeks ago.

The tag line read: "You're going to Pebble."

It was news that DeLuca, a Lexington Catholic senior, had been selected to play in the Home Care & Hospice First Tee Open at Pebble Beach, a Champions Tour event this weekend.

"It was kind of overwhelming," DeLuca said.

Will Bishop, a Paul Laurence Dunbar senior, knows the feeling. He not only got to play in the Labor Day tournament last year (when it was sponsored by Walmart), he teamed with pro David Eger to win the pro-am portion of the event.

Bishop remembers the experience as "one of the best weeks of my life."

That's why Bishop was thrilled when he got the same e-mail message as DeLuca in late July. Bishop was invited back to Pebble Beach.

Both golfers, representing The First Tee of Lexington, have been in California since the beginning of the week, getting in practice rounds at Pebble Beach and Del Monte. They find out Thursday night with whom they will be paired when the tournament starts Friday.

DeLuca, a left-hander, knows with whom he'd like to play: "My first reaction when I saw the list was I'd love to play with Russ Cochran. He's a Kentucky boy, and he's a lefty."

Before heading to the West Coast, Bishop gave DeLuca a scouting report on what to expect.

Bishop, who will play college golf at Kentucky, said he was most nervous last year in a practice round with Eger, Nick Price and Mark McNulty, but after that he settled down and just played golf.

One of the highlights for Bishop last year was getting putting tips from Hall of Famer Gary Player. "It was so cool that he spent so much time with me — like 40 minutes," Bishop said.

But just getting to play Pebble Beach, which was the site of this year's U.S. Open, is the biggest reward.

"It's going to be so neat," DeLuca said. "You see the pros play Pebble on TV, and now I get to go out and experience it. I'm going take it all in, have fun and remember everything about it."

DeLuca and Bishop will get to share it with their families, too.

DeLuca's parents, Tom and Terry, and his grandparents will be there. Older brother Michael will caddy for him.

Bishop's mom and dad, Barry and Allyson, who watched their son win last year, will be there again.

Dave Bunnell, who runs The First Tee of Lexington, was on the bag for Bishop last Labor Day weekend, and will caddy for him again.

Bishop and DeLuca were among 245 junior golfers (boys and girls) nationwide who applied for this year's tournament. Fifty-one boys and 23 girls were selected based on their playing ability, and on essays they wrote about life skills they learn through their involvement with The First Tee.

The Home Care & Hospice First Tee Open will air on the Golf Channel Friday and Saturday (6:30-8:30 p.m.), and Sunday (7-9:30 p.m.).

  Comments