Alleman's Hatch steps in as caddie for Harman's lead-tying round

Originally Posted Online: July 10, 2014, 6:09 pm
Last Updated: July 11, 2014, 8:30 am
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By Marc Nesseler,

SILVIS -- Pro golfer Brian Harman wasn't aware of Jay Hatch's golden touch. That is, until the seventh hole of the first round of Thursday's John Deere Classic.

Harman needed a fill-in caddie when Scott Tway (younger brother of pro golfer Bob Tway) became ill as they reached the seventh tee. Two men were there when they arrived. One, a tournament rep in a suit coat, offered his assistance, but Hatch stepped in and said he could carry the clubs.

"I said there's no way a guy is a suit coat is going to carry a bag for 12 holes," said Hatch. "I told him I could carry the bag, but I don't know anything about reading putts, and he was good with that."

Twelve holes later, Harman and Hatch came off the 18th green with Harman atop the JDC leaderboard, tied with Zach Johnson and Rory Sabbatini for the lead at 8-under.

Cue the Midas references.

Hatch already had three gold medals as a softball head coach for Alleman when, just last month, he added another as an assistant coach when the Pioneers won a Class 2A state championship. He still is the only Illinois Quad-Cities Metro girls' basketball coach to win state gold, taking his Pioneers to the A state title in 2005.

Before Tway was relieved and tended to, Harman was 2-under. With Hatch on the bag, Harman got a birdie on that No. 7 and finished out the front nine with pars. After a par on No. 10, Harman got really hot with four straight birdies. He finished with a bogey-birdie-par run, meaning a minus-5 finish with Hatch along for the ride.

Hatch takes no credit, except for allowing Harman to finish with a caddie.

"I just tried to speak when spoken to," Hatch said. "The other two caddies, Alex and Chris, were phenomenal. They kept me out of the way and in the right spots. And fortunately, Brian only hit one shot in the bunker, and one of the other caddies took care of that. I know the pros are picky about how the bunkers are raked."

When it came to reading yardages, Harman handled that.

"I haven't gotten one of my own yardages in about eight months since Scott and I started working together," Harman said. "So he gave me the yardage book, and I was having to walk distances off. I hadn't done that in awhile, so it was nice."

To show how quirky it was that Hatch was in the right place at the right time, Hatch said he wasn't even watching or following Harman when he the need arose.

"Actually I was watching the group behind him (Jason Bohn, Nathan Green and Dicky Pride), but if you don't stay ahead of the game in watching golfers, you get behind," Hatch said. "It was at the tee box where I saw that the caddie was in trouble."

Until then, Harman and Hatch had never met.

"Scott wasn't looking good," said Harman. "He's tough as nails, but I looked in his eyes one time and he really didn't look OK. So, I called a medic over and Scottie said he was going to have to sit out at least a couple of holes."

It turned out to be 12.

"Jay was standing there," added Harman, "and said, 'I'll do it. I'll keep up.' He said he always wanted an opportunity to see inside the ropes, so we had a lot of fun. We talked about Notre Dame football."

Hatch found that being a caddie, in some ways, is easier than being a spectator.

"The grass is softer, and there are no hills," said Hatch. "I just don't know if I could carry a bag over the course of four days."

Hatch said that Harman told him that he thought Tway was going to be OK, so there was no arrangement for Hatch to be on standby for today's second round, which for Harman begins at 1:35 p.m. off the 10th tee.

As for whether Hatch sought a 10 percent caddie take, or even a 2.5 percent take for the 12 holes, Hatch laughed and said, "No, no way."

Harman did, though, tell Hatch he would send him a check.

Regardless, the Alleman coach says he is cheering for Harman the rest of the way. Hatch knows well how special it is to have a hand in a championship.


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