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Notes from the Greenside Bunker

with: Jamie Spencer
   
 

Several folks have recently asked me to shed some light on the wonderful game of golf. A few have even mentioned they miss my weekly perspective and stories from the greenside bunker on twelve. Humbled gents, and yes I still have lots of stories. I'm a little rusty like this 60 degree Titleist wedge. But I will do my best to get up and down to please the crowd. Move the ball towards the middle of your stance and now swing for the fences since there's fluffy new sand. But always remember to keep that head down kids. 
First I like to give a shout to an old young and flat-bellied friend who made some major headlines in June. T.J. Howe was out in Wisconsin as one of the alternates for the U.S. Open at Erin Hills a few weeks back. The mini touring professional from nearby Osceala, PA was hoping for just one more player to bag out to get into the 156-player field.
The former PIAA state champ and Nittany Lion standout reported to the course at 6 a.m. that opening round. If one player withdrew then Howe would get another shot against the worlds very best on the ultimate stage. 
So TJ spent the entire week at Erin Hills waiting. He got to practice and rub shoulders with some rather big names. Howe played 18 holes on Wednesday that included nine holes with the Master's champ Sergio Garcia. TJ then caught up to Jordan Speith who invited the kid from the suburbs of Elkand to tag along. Not a bad day at the office. 
Being on the big screen isn't anything new for TJ. He qualified for the 2016 U.S. Open but missed the cut. Howe has already played in several PGA tournaments and is a regular on the Canadian and eGolf Tours. He has had some success on the links and continues to look for that big break. But by 3:00 p.m. that Thursday nobody backed out and my boy TJ Howe was forced to head home. Tough luck kid. 
It didn't take long for TJ to bounce back in big way. He teed it up that following week and won the Frank B. Fuhrer Jr. Invitational at the Pittsburgh Field Club. Howe played sensational and won the 72-hole tournament by four shots. TJ finished at 4 under and was the only player in the 40-man field under par. Howe collected the largest paycheck of his young professional career. $40k isn't bad at all. 
I reached out to TJ to congratulate him on his impressive two week run. He was very grateful with his comments like always. We spent the next few minutes talking about fishing. I told him that I was proud of him. Cheers to my friend from the Northern Tier. Hopefully this will lead to bigger and better things. 
Tune in next week sports fans. I'm heading to the beach, but I am packing my legal pad. I think you will enjoy my story on the Men's Industrial Golf League. #cheers