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Friday April 12, 2013 Overall, a cool caddying experience for McCumber in the Augusta heat

Updated: 8:20am, April 12

McCumber the CaddyGAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Every golf fan has seen the iconic white overalls worn by caddies at The Masters.

Now, Tyler McCumber knows them better than most -- from the inside.

“Man, those things are odd,” McCumber said Thursday night by phone from Augusta, Ga. “It was hot out there, especially when we got in the sun, so I had to strip off my clothes -- down to my shorties -- and it was still a sweat fest.”

McCumber, the University of Florida senior, was bibbed up and on the bag for his Gators teammate T.J. Vogel during the Par 3 Contest played annually on the eve of golf’s cherished opening major championship of the PGA season.

Vogel, the senior from Cooper City, Fla., who qualified for the 77th Masters by winning the 2012 U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship in Utah, last July, finished 2-over in the nine-hole Par-3 event, with a birdie on the final hole.

For the two Gators, though, the Par-3 Contest wasn’t about the golf as it was the experience. The holes average about 110 yards each (only pitching and sand wedges needed) and players often walk the short course with family members. Some even let their children hit shots.

“It’s really laid back,” McCumber said. “But it’s fun.”

Picture Vogel and McCumber (in overalls, alongside Vogel, above) playing two holes behind a triumvirate of Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and Gary Player -- with 13 Masters titles and 34 major championships between them -- armed with a hearty gallery. The group in front of the Gator duo featured Rory McIlroy, the world’s No. 2-ranked player who brought along tennis star and girlfriend Caroline Wozniacki as his caddy.

[Note: No offense, Tyler, but ... “Advantage, McIlroy”]

Among the Par-3 traditions is that each caddy gets to hit a tee shot on No. 9 and McCumber was looking forward to taking his swing. In fact, he’d told Vogel that if he aced the ninth hole -- and, yes, it’s happened before -- he was going to zip off the bib, toss it aside and take a dive in the pristine lake that fronts the green.

His glove and ball in hand, McCumber was ready to step to the tee box when a tournament official informed him the event was running behind schedule and to bypass the shot and proceed to the green.

“I was so bummed,” McCumber said. “I wanted a chance to swim across that lake.”

Probably at the cost of being banned from Augusta for life.

“Would’ve been worth it, though,” he said. “I would’ve had a hole-in-one.”

True.

Instead, he had to settle for a steamy walk around the little-known short course that partners with one of the true cathedrals of the game.

On Thursday, McCumber followed Vogel during the tournament’s opening round and watched his teammate fire a 77.  

“T.J., I think, handled the whole thing pretty well,” he said. “It’s tough. You don’t really go into this tournament, in his position, with expectations. You go more to enjoy it and have a good time and be happy that you’re there.”

That’s what McCumber did, too.

An overall cool (and sweaty) day, no doubt.

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