ARDMORE, Pa. (AP) — LaRue Temple has to take off Sunday from working behind the bar.
He’s needed on the bag of a U.S. Open contender.
Amateur Michael Kim should be one of those feel-good stories at Merion Golf Club as he makes his charge up the leaderboard.
But it’s his caddie who was feeling the Philly love on Saturday.
“For probably the first 12 holes today, he was getting more cheers than I was,” the 19-year-old Kim said. “Everybody was going ‘LaRue!’ ‘LaRue!’ It was cool though.”
That’s a tough break for Temple’s bar customers; he says he makes a mean Long Island Iced Tea.
“But my margaritas are pretty good, also,” he said.
Temple has caddied at Merion since 1997 and planned to attend the Open as a fan. He was just hanging around the 18th hole on Monday when he went looking for a friend. On his walk, he bumped into a club official who offered him a spot in a pinch.
So he slipped on his bib, grabbed a bucket hat and went to work.
The partnership flourished on Saturday.
Kim made four birdies in a six-hole stretch, capped by a 15-foot putt at No. 15 that lowered his score to even par.
“We just wanted to keep having fun, keep going,” Kim said.
But he bogeyed 16 and 18 and double-bogeyed 17 and finished 1-over 71. He’s in 10th place, five strokes behind leader Phil Mickelson.
“I kept looking at the leaderboard, not because I wanted to know how I was doing in the tournament, but it was so cool to see my name next to those names like Mickelson, (Luke) Donald, Char Schwartzel,” Kim said.
The 30-year-old Temple, who graduated from Philadelphia’s Olney High School, knows the feeling. He normally works at Merion from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. and then starts a 9-hour bartending shift around 5 p.m. During weekends, he works weddings spinning tunes as DJ LaRue.
Before Temple suggested clubs on the course, he handed out bats on the baseball field. Temple worked as a Philadelphia Phillies batboy in 1999 under manager Terry Francona.
As a teenager, Temple was an autograph hound, collecting signatures on bats, hats, cards, anything. Eventually, that got him work for his favorite team, and he was soon high-fiving his favorite players at ol’ Veterans Stadium.
Temple said his Facebook page was “blowing up” with well wishes from friends.
Sure enough, Temple posted a picture Saturday night with his arm around Kim in the scoring area, big smiles on each of them.
“STAND UP MERION,” he wrote.
The rest of his page is fan stuff — photos of Angel Cabrera and Adam Scott on the practice range.
Then a shot from behind and from a distance that says, “A little hard to see but that is Tiger.” He posted the photo Wednesday.
Three days later, Temple just smiled when Woods walked right behind him on the way to the podium. And Temple thought the closest he’d get to the three-time Open champion was from somewhere in the gallery.
“I paid a good amount of money to go see Tiger for the week,” he said, laughing. “Me and my buddies ponied up a decent amount of cash to see him.”
Odds are, he’ll make it back on the bag.
Temple, who looks a bit like Phillies slugger Ryan Howard, soaked up his moment at Merion.
“Can you tell us again …” another wave of reporters asked, asking him to repeat some of his stories.
“I sure can tell you again,” he said, retelling his life as Phillies batboy and Open pinch hitter.
“I want to represent for Merion,” he said.
And he believed Kim can win.
“He’s the show,” Temple said. “I’m just along for the ride.”