Playing with the pros

WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. -A brush with greatness created lifetime memories for junior golfers Abby Roberts and Coleman Lamp.

Roberts, who graduated from Parkersburg Catholic in the spring, will be joining the women’s program at the University of Charleston in the fall and Lamp is entering his senior year at St. Marys High School.

Both individuals joined forces Tuesday with veteran PGA Tour golfer Davis Love III in a three-hole scramble format at the Old White Course at The Greenbrier Resort in preparation for the Greenbrier Classic, which begins on Thursday.

“If this doesn’t rank as the highest milestone in my career, it’s up there,” said Lamp, who made two birdie putts as his threesome finished the exhibition 2-under par – two strokes better than their opponent, which consisted of fourth-year pro Morgan Hoffman and junior golfers Freddie Fitzsimmons from Wheeling and Tyler Peterson from the Roanoke Valley.

“The event was real casual, but it was cool being treated like a pro,” Roberts said. “After we hit our tee shot on No. 1, they stopped everyone on the bridge and let us through. That made me feel important.”

Roberts and Lamp received a call several weeks ago informing them they had qualified for yesterday’s event sponsored by Ralph Lauren. Both had earned enough points in their age group through the Callaway Junior Tour.

Before the three-hole scramble, golfers attended a banquet and listened to speeches given by golfers Nick Faldo and Patrick Rodgers as well as Greenbrier Resort owner Jim Justice.

Then the nerves started to settle in as Roberts and Lamp took practice swings on the driving range. In between shots, Lamp took a few minutes to watch Vijay Singh and Webb Simpson hitting nearby.

“I was pretty nervous leading up to the event,” Roberts said. “When I went to the driving range, I was glad (former Parkersburg Catholic golf coach) Bill Pugh was there. He told me I would be fine and if I needed anything he would be there for me.”

After shaking hands with Tom Watson, Roberts approached her first tee shot and delivered a respectable drive in front of a gallery consisting in upwards of 100 people.

“After that, I knew I was going to be OK,” Roberts said.

After their group reached the first green in regulation, Lamp listened to a few suggestions by Love III and sank the 20-foot downhill putt.

“Davis Love III said to give it a roll about 8 inches outside the cup,” Lamp said.

After making par on the second hole at No. 11, the two groups approached the par 3, 18th hole. Love III left his drive within 8 feet from the pin and Lamp made the birdie putt.

“Since I’ve been a little kid, I’ve always liked watching Davis Love III,” Lamp said. “Normally when you watch him during a golf match, you see how focused he is. Today, he helped us out. He was different than what I expected.”

The junior golfers each received an outfit from Ralph Lauren, but the experience of playing alongside a PGA Tour pro on a course they never had encountered surpassed any material possessions.

“There will be so many things I’ll remember about today,” Roberts said. “I’ll definitely cherish getting the opportunity to play next to a PGA Tour pro. You realize they are just normal people.”