SONY HAWAII OPEN GOLF
DENNIS ODA / DODA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Parker McLachlin put in some practice rounds yesterday at the Waialae Country Club Golf Course in preparation for today's Sony Open.
Pro golfer Scott Simpson hauls the bag for an ex-caddie of his, Sony qualifier Parker McLachlin
SCOTT SIMPSON just looks at it as returning a favor from a friend. Parker McLachlin is grateful for his good fortune. "It's not every day a U.S. Open winner offers to caddie for you," McLachlin said.
Simpson, the winner of seven PGA Tour events, including the 1987 U.S. Open, called McLachlin this week after Simpson heard the 26-year-old Nationwide Tour player and Punahou graduate had qualified for the Sony Open.
"I just congratulated him and asked if he had a caddie," the former Ryder Cup team member said. "I'm not doing anything this week anyway."
McLachlin gladly accepted, and was scheduled to tee off in the first round this morning at Waialae Country Club with Simpson on the bag.
Simpson did not qualify for the Sony Open, where he placed second in 1982 when it was the Hawaiian Open. But the 50-year-old Champions Tour rookie and former Hawaii resident will play in next week's MasterCard Championship at Hualalai on the Big Island.
So why not help out a friend since he's here?
"Scott's always been such a giving, genuine guy, especially to Hawaii juniors," said Chris McLachlin, Parker's father.
Simpson and the McLachlins met in 1989 through Greg Nichols, then the pro at Waialae Country Club.
COURTESY OF THE McLACHLIN FAMILY
Parker McLachlin as a boy shakes hands with Scott Simpson as they meet at the Waialae links in 1990.
Two years later, Parker caddied for Simpson at the Hawaiian Open. Chris also carried the bag for Simpson, at the 1993 Masters and the 2000 Hartford Open.
"Some of my better finishes," Simpson said, then chuckling, with the McLachlins within earshot. "Just think what I could've done."
Simpson said Parker has the right demeanor to break through to the PGA Tour.
"His attitude more than anything," Simpson said, when asked to describe McLachlin's strengths as a golfer. "He stays positive and he has a game plan.
"Technically, his game has improved a lot. He's always been a good chipper and putter, but his swing is better," Simpson added. "And contrary to a lot of young guys, he doesn't go crazy and want to change his swing with every bad shot."
Just how many strokes is Simpson's expertise worth?
STAR-BULLETIN / 2001
Golfer Scott Simpson blasts his way out of the sand trap on the 17th green on a chip-off round of the Johnny Bellinger shootout at the Waialae Country Club.
"I haven't really thought about it that way," McLachlin said. "I just know he's someone with a lot of knowledge and experience who I'm comfortable with. We went nine holes (Tuesday), and we just kind of talked things out. I'm just really looking forward to this because he has such a level head and even keel. It's good to have that rub off on me."
Simpson has one motivational ploy to improve McLachlin's game.
"We played at Pearl the other day, and I wore my big USC cap," said Simpson, who was a member of the Trojans golf team.
"Parker made six birdies in nine holes," he said of the UCLA alumnus, then with a laugh, "I noticed he was very focused, aggressive, angry. I told him I'd wear it for him again (today)."
Simpson said he last caddied "when I was a kid, for my dad."
"It's been a while," he added. "I hope I don't forget the towel."
Six other players from Hawaii in addition to McLachlin are entered in the field, including 1990 Hawaiian Open champion David Ishii. Kevin Hayashi, Brandan Kop, Michelle Wie, Dean Wilson and Beau Yokomoto are also among the 144 players teeing off today.