Kyler's Excellent Adventure
by Diane Ambro
Okay, the title may be a little bit misleading, tabloid-like even. But in truth Kyler Murphy, local golf phenom is as we speak inside the ropes on the European Pro Tour. As a caddie. He will be on the bag for South African Alan McLean, who temporarily calls Thunder Bay 'home'. Alan who has been on the pro circuit since 1995, is married to a local lady, the former Laura McLennan. They met a few years ago when Alan was passing through Thunder Bay with golf pal Walter Keating Jr. It seems that Walter's wife worked with Laura and she was introduced to Alan. The rest, as they say, is history. Just this past April 8th, Laura and Alan became proud new parents of a beautiful baby daughter, Grace.
I met Alan and Grace at Kyler's home and had an opportunity to get a little bit of insight of what it's like to be a professional golfer. The most obvious drawback of playing in Europe right now is the absence of his family. Alan was lucky enough to be home the week that Grace was born but he's missed most of the first seven weeks of her life. Alan and Laura are working to get Grace's birth certificate so that Laura and the baby can join Alan on tour as soon as possible.
Alan was and still is a member of the Canadian Tour. He's been to Q school for the PGA tour twice, having made it to the final stage once and the second stage once. He plans to try again this fall because he believes that making on the US PGA tour would be the 'pinnacle of golf'. He's optimistic about his chances because he says he's 'feeling comfortable' with his game right now.
For the summer he will be playing in tournaments such as Keltic Manor in Wales, Glen Eagles in Scotland, the French Open in Paris, K-Club in Dublin for the Smurfit European Open (where the Ryder Cup will be played in two years time) and the Scottish Open in Loch Lomond. Alan says he's really pleased to have Kyler on his bag for the next five or six weeks. He believes that Kyler is a 'good young player' who will benefit enormously from the experience. 'Any young player who wants to play pro golf could learn from being inside the ropes' explained Alan. He told me he was looking forward to having a friend with him who he could 'bounce energies off of'. Alan expects to make his own club selections but he definitely plans to ask Kyler for his advice on 'lines' etc. He says it's good to get 'someone else's perspective'. Neither one has played these courses before and they will do practice rounds together prior to the tournament. Unfortunately, Kyler will not be playing the tour courses, but he will get a few games in elsewhere.
Alan has played with pros that you might recognize, like Eduardo Romero and Anders Hansen. He says that most of the guys are 'well established and friendly' unless they're having a bad day. You learn to realize that 'you're not going to play your best every day' and deal with it. Just recently Alan was tied for fourth after the first round of the Deutsche Bank but a subsequent pair of triple bogies dropped him down to about 40th place for a win of about $40.000 Can. Kyler and Alan met three years ago when Alan was at Thunder Country Travel, where Kyler's mom Rosemary works. They've been friends ever since and he's optimistic that Kyler will come away from his European experience with a whole new perspective. He says Kyler will learn so much and realize that it's easy to spot mistakes when you're not playing.
As for Kyler, he's 'a little nervous' about his impending duties but excited at the same time. Kyler has established himself locally as one of Thunder Bays best golfers having won the Strathcona Invitational and the Fort William Country Club Championship. His career as a junior has been stellar and he's just come off of his first year at the University of Detroit where he led the field in golf after the fall season. Kyler, who's in Detroit on a scholarship was offered scholarships at several other universities in the US such as Virginia Longwood and Old Dominion in Virginia Beach. After checking out his options he chose Detroit because the focus there is on academics first and golf is an extracurricular activity.
Kyler is majoring in chemistry and is considering a career as a pharmacist. Of course golf is his first choice of career and he plans to joining the Canadian Tour some day and maybe the Hooter's or another mini tour in Florida for the winter. He's cautious about saying too much about the PGA tour at this point but I can tell it's on his mind.
While in Detroit Kyler played at the Detroit Golf Club which is affiliated with the university. He says he didn't golf much in the spring because the conditions were 'crappy'. He says he thinks his game may have improved because of the bad conditions he was forced to play in. He got a lot of experience playing in bad weather like temperatures of only 10C and lots of wind. During the winter they practiced on a 'heated' range where the players stood in heated stalls and hit balls out into a field. Heated or not it was still 'pretty cold'.
By now both fellows are in Europe preparing for the first tournament at Keltic Manor. Alan says he believes all of the tournaments will have television coverage so we'll all have to watch to see if we can get a glimpse of our 'local' boys this summer. Kyler and I have a date when he returns to talk about his life as a caddie so watch for a follow up report on Kyler's Excellent Adventure.