(When a Saskatoon teenager found out he had cancer, Oscar nominee Bill Murray made one of his wishes come true.)
The Pebble Beach Pro-Am in California definitely isn’t The Masters.
But with the pros providing the shots and Hollywood celebrities chipping in with the laughs, it’s one of the most memorable stops on the PGA Tour.
Speaking of memories, 17-year-old Rob Neufeld of Saskatoon has a bag full from last year’s Pebble Beach funfest and for that, he can thank one of the top comedic actors on the planet. Bill Murray also happens to be one of the world’s biggest golf nuts and his zany antics always draw the biggest galleries during the bash at the Beach.
But what would it be like to caddy for one of the stars of “Caddyshack”?
Rob can tell you all about it.
Two years ago, doctors discovered a cancerous tumour and were forced to remove Rob’s left eye. In the midst of the ordeal, Rob’s dad asked his golf-loving son a simple question.
“I asked him to name the player he’d love to caddy for,” recalled Don Neufeld.
It didn’t take long to come up with an answer.
“I always loved watching Bill Murray in the old “Saturday Night Live” re-runs,” Rob said. “Then I started watching his act at Pebble Beach on television. I’ve always believed people take golf too seriously and Murray broke that mould.”
A father’s love knows no bounds and after a series of telephone calls, Don was informed by Murray’s office that the actor was more than willing to make Rob’s dream come true. Before they knew what was happening, father and son were touching down at Pebble Beach to receive a firsthand look at “Murray Mania”.
“I’ve played in a bunch of Pro-Am’s at the Canadian Open,” said Don. “But I’ve never seen anything like the crowds around Murray. He’s an incredible performer and is just fantastic with people.”
Rob had never met a movie star before and admits he didn’t know what to expect. However, after being introduced to Murray, he quickly picked up on the need to expect the unexpected. A few minutes before teeing off, Murray suddenly decided he needed a haircut and went in search of a barber. But following his caddy code book to the letter, Rob immediately put his foot down.
“Bill! You don’t have time for a trim. We’ve got to tee off….Now!”
“You’re right, Robbie,” Murray shrugged. “Grip it and rip it!”
Let the round begin and to entertain the fans Murray began singing “Cruising Together”, a tune that Huey Lewis and Gwyneth Paltrow performed together in the movie “Duets”. Of course, Rob couldn’t help but get caught up in the spirit and quickly jumped into the impromptu Karaoke act.
So, who do they eventually run into on the golf course?
A celebrity golfer by the name of…..you guessed it, Huey Lewis, who got a real kick out of being serenaded by his own song. But the celebrity sightings wouldn’t end there. The morning after the round, Rob and Don accepted a breakfast invitation from Murray.
“No big deal,” the actor grinned. “A little orange juice, some oatmeal, a bran muffin…..and oh yeah, do you mind if Clint Eastwood joins us?”
Of course, you can’t hobnob with Hollywood legends forever. A year has passed since the Neufeld’s great adventure at Pebble Beach and much has changed.
Thanks to his outstanding work in “Lost in Translation”, Murray has been nominated for an Academy Award. Meanwhile, Rob’s health is fantastic and his follow-up cancer tests have been absolutely perfect. Rob turns 18 next month and after graduating from high school in the spring, he plans to take broadcast production in college with hopes of one day working in the comedy television industry.
A budding Bill Murray perhaps?
That’s a long way down the road, but the two friends still keep in touch.
A gutsy teenager who’s winning a big battle, and a Hollywood hero with a huge heart.