Rubbing elbows with the likes of Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson at the U.S. Open is a working holiday for Brian DePasquale, University at Albany assistant athletic director for media relations and sports information director.
DePasquale, who has directed sports media relations for the Great Danes since 1994, has worked at every U.S. Open since 1993. It’s become his hobby. He also has helped out at other USGA events, and he has a unique perspective on pro golf’s most demanding event.
“Leading up to the U.S. Open, I’m one of the people who does research and finds unusual facts about the tournament,” said DePasquale. “A lot of the people I work with at the U.S. Open have similar backgrounds in sports information, so we know what to look for.
“A great example of some of the stuff we research is that in this U.S. Open, there were 31 golfers who went through both local and sectional qualifying to compete. We keep track of those kinds of facts, because you’d be amazed what we’re asked by the media.”
DePasquale discovered an interesting fact that has a local tie.
“Obviously, in some sense, the U.S. Open became a coming out party for Ricky Barnes. I was with him the last day, and clearly, he is becoming a fan favorite,” said DePasquale about the co-runner-up of this year’s event at Bethpage State Park’s Black Course in Farmingdale. “But what I didn’t know was that his father played football with Lee McElroy [UAlbany’s athletic director] at UCLA.”
DePasquale also ran into an old friend who is not a household name to most golfing fans.
“Jimmy Johnston saw me, and we talked about old times,” DePasquale said. “He’s played in the Open before, but I met him a long time ago, when I was the assistant sports information director at Colgate. We hosted the 1992 NCAA East Regional at Seven Oaks, and he played in it. He was David Duval’s teammate at Georgia Tech.”
Speaking of Duval, who tied for runner-up along with Barnes and Mickelson, DePasquale said he’s seen a big change in the former No. 1 player in the world. Duval’s father, former Champions Tour member Bobby Duval, is a Bishop Gibbons graduate who was born at Ellis Hospital. Duval’s grandfather, Hap, was the longtime pro at Stamford Golf Club.
Duval wasn’t proud of any ties to the Capital Region when he competed, along with Bobby, at the old Capital District Skins Game at Albany Country Club years ago. He told the area press that his home was in Florida at the time, and that he felt no kinship to this area.
“Duval’s a lot different now,” DePasquale said. “He’s got a family now, and it appears that he’s found himself again. He’s settled into a lifestyle now, and he seems much calmer.”
DePasquale said the New York fans left quite an impression on the members of the PGA Tour.
“The fans were crazy. Some of the stuff they said was very funny. Some of it wasn’t. There was a lot of rough stuff, and some of it can’t be repeated. I do remember that when Sergio Garcia came through, he was one group ahead of us in one of the rounds. Some guy yells out, ‘Hey, El Nino, thanks for the weather,’ in a thick Long Island accent. Another guy yelled out ‘Hey, Tiger, it’s not your day,’ when he missed a putt.”
It’s a good thing that DePasquale keeps himself in good shape, because once the rain-delayed U.S. Open began, he had to do a lot of walking.
“My role once play started was as a media escort. I kept track of all the media inside the ropes who had armbands. That included photo guys, print guys or whoever. Usually, I’m responsible for the marquee guys, because they are the ones with the most media following. I had Tiger Woods every day, and Mickelson on several days.
“We didn’t have normal days on Thursday and Friday, because of all the rain delays, but I would normally double up on the big guys, meaning I would walk with each of them until they were through. It takes six miles to walk 18 holes, I was doubling that, at least. One day, I walked 26 holes. There was so much walking that I wasextremely tired at the end of each day. I slept well.”
DePasquale said he and the other media assistants got up at 4:45 a.m. every day. “We never knew exactly what time play would start because of the rain. Every day was a long day. There was no flow to this championship,” he said.
When Woods made his run in the final round, DePasquale said there were at least 25 still photographers and more than 50 reporters following him inside the ropes.
“My job is to make sure all the media moved behind the players without impeding play. If the players didn’t notice the media, it was a good day. That doesn’t happen all that often.”
There wasn’t any major incident, like there was a few years ago when Tiger’s caddy, Steve Williams, broke a photographer’s camera, but there were a few small problems.
“One photographer on the second day of the tournament accidentally hit his shutter, and Angel Cabrera wasn’t very happy, but other than that, it went pretty smoothly,” he said.
DePasquale’s most vivid memory of this year’s U.S. Open?
“We don’t always know exactly what’s going on all over the course when we’re with one or two groups, but when Mickelson birdied the 17th hole, the noise was so loud that we knew exactly what happened. And when Tiger birdied the 13th and 14th holes in the last round to get within three shots of the lead, you could tell what everyone was thinking. But for some reason, Tiger had trouble with the 15th hole every day of the tournament. When he bogeyed that, it slowed him down, and you could tell it wasn’t going to be his year.”
DePasquale said he always feels appreciated after every U.S. Open.
“We got a nice note from Mickelson’s public relations guy, T.R. Reinman. In essence he said that we, the USGA staff, do it the right way, and that Phil enjoyed playing in the U.S. Open very much.”
Even though it’s a lot of work, DePasquale says he will continue his working holidays as long as he can. He also helps out the media during the New York Giants’ training camp, and he was a press officer at the 1992 XVI Winter Olympics in Albertville, France.
— Harry Robinson, Chris Tallon and Tom Ryan posted a 12-under- par 59 to capture the local qualifying event of the Northeastern New York PGA’s McGladrey Team Championship at Fox Run Golf Club. The champions defeated a field of seven teams, and will compete in the McGladrey NENYPGA finals Aug. 24 at Malone Country Club. Fox Run head pro Rich Scott will join the trio in a bid to become one of 41 teams nationwide to earn a berth in the McGladrey Team Championship national finals Oct. 26-28 at Pinehurst (N.C.) Resort. The team of Pete Bennice, Rob Klug and Scott Felthousen was second with a 64, followed by Ken Ahigian, Tim O’Brien Jr. and Mike Fagan in third with a 66.
–There are still plenty of openings for the Gazette Women’s Best Ball Championship, scheduled for July 11 at Schenectady Municipal Golf Course. Eighteen teams have signed up, including defending champions Pat Mayne and Karen Feldman. Entry blanks appear in the Daily Gazette sports pages. To download a pdf of the entry form, click HERE.
— The 19th annual ALs Memorial Open at Van Patten Golf Course last week drew 208 golfers and raised $100,570 for the St. Peter’s ALS Regional Center. Stu Copake won the raffle for the trip to the Lexus Champions for Charity Golf Tournament at Pebble Beach Resort. Mike Stefanik won the men’s gross with a 70, while Kathy Harkins was the women’s gross winner with a 72.
–Van Patten Golf Course will host the 11th annual Glenville Rotary Golf Classic Aug. 6. Entry fee for the four-person scramble will be $90, and includes golf, cart, snack at the turn, luncheon, and awards for both men and women. The field is limited to the first 144 players. Call John Weldon at 399-0048 for more information.
–The Jack Falvo III fourth annual Memorial Open Golf Tournament will be held Aug. 21 at Western Turnpike Golf Club. There will be a 9 a.m. shotgun start for the “shamble” format. Entry fee is $130, and includes continental breakfast, golf with cart, lunch, beverage stations on the course, cocktail reception, hors d’oeuvres and dinner. Call John Falvo at 583-0540 after 5:30 p.m. for more information.
Larry MacDonald aced the 100-yard seventh hole at Briar Creek.
At Mechanicville Golf Club, Steve Muzio used a 5-iron to record his third career hole-in-one on the 185-yard seventh hole.
Joey Leone aced the 156-yard 11th hole with a 7-iron at Hales Mills Country Club.
At Airway Meadows Golf Club, Andrew Christy found the cup with a 5-iron on the 183-yard 11th hole.
Jim Sweeney hit a 7-iron for his ace on the 145-yard fourth hole at Amsterdam Municipal Golf Course.
Also at Amsterdam Municipal, Mike Frollo hit a 4-iron for his hole-in-one on the 213-yard eighth.
Mike DiDomenico eagled the fourth hole at Mechanicville Golf Club with a 3-wood, 5-iron and putt.
Chris Rodecker holed out from 60 yards to eagle the par-5 second hole at Schenectady Municipal while playing in the Pinhead Susans league.
Frank Falvo chipped in for eagle on the ninth hole at Schenectady Municipal while competing in the Falvo Insurance league.
Mike Carroll also eagled the ninth hole at Schenectady Municipal while playing in the Stator Frame league.
Marcel Brisson of the Hank’s Rotterdam Elks league eagled the second hole at Windham Country Club.
Sam Pepe eagled the 17th hole at Amsterdam Municipal Golf Course.
GAZETTE COVERAGEEnsure access to everything we do, today and every day, check out our subscribe page at DailyGazette.com/Subscribe
More from The Daily Gazette: