Here is a great story from one of our followers, Brian Maloney.
Brian is from Muskegon, MI and currently resides in Palm Harbor, FL.
Every kid’s dream is to meet their favorite sports athlete. I guess you can say my dream came true, and then some. In 2005 I attended the PODS Championship which is now called the Transitions Championship in Palm Harbor, FL. It was Tuesday, which on the PGA Tour is a practice round. I was walking around the course looking for my favorite player, Ben Crane, when I spotted him. I began following him and cheering for him. He thanked me for my cheers and we began talking during the round. I was so excited the whole day but the greatest part of the day was yet to come. After the round he autographed some things for me and asked me if I was coming tomorrow, which is another practice day. I said “Yes Ben, I took off work the whole week to watch you play.” He then asked me, “ Brian do you want to caddie for me tomorrow?” I couldn’t believe what I just heard. I said “YES!” in excitement. The next day came and I was inside the ropes with Ben. He gave me a caddie bib that had his name on it. It was one of the greatest days of my life. On the course we talked about his shots and I helped him read greens. After the round was over he gave me free tickets for my family and I for the rest of the week.
From 2005-2008, I was always there for him at the Transitions tournament. In 2008 I introduced Ben to my brother Kevin and my dad, Tom. They were curious if Ben’s character was what I was making it out to be. They were shocked when they met him and realized everything I had been saying was true. In 2008 I came home from work one day and noticed an envelope on my bed. I opened it and it was a birthday card from Ben. From then on we really became friends off the course and stayed in touch all year via email and phone. He would send me texts all the time asking how I’m doing and telling me that he needs me to cheer for him during next tournament. I sent him texts saying good luck every weekend he always responded back.
The 2009 Transitions Championship was a memorable one. Kevin and I greeted Ben on the first day eager to say hello. He looked at our hats we were wearing and said if you’re going to be with me on the course today we need to all match. So he takes two hats with his name on the back and gives them to us. He then talks us around the ropes and lets us in. He then asked me to caddie for him again. Kevin told me to have fun and he began to walk back to the gallery when Ben told him “stop” we need your help too. Finally someone else close to me got to experience this fun with me. As a team we went over shots, read greens and waved at the fans when we walked by. I could tell that Kevin was in awe by the smile that never left his face. At the end of the round we thanked him and he signed over a dozen balls and his glove and gave it to us. When the first round of the tournament finally began Ben told Kevin and I to keep an eye out for his neighbor. He said we would notice him but we told him we had never met. Finally his neighbor showed up and greeted Kevin. Kevin then came to me and said “Brian there is Ben’s neighbor”. I said “OK”, but Kevin told to me look close. I began to look at him and he did look familiar. Kevin then told me that it was Mark Teixeira, the 1st baseman for the New York Yankees. My brother was in excitement all day walking the course with Mark. It was nice to meet him but my hero was playing and that’s all I payed attention too. At the end of the round Mark gave Kevin and I some autographed cards and thanked us for our company.
The tournament was over and we had a good time. Ben took us to the players area where we saw Retief Goosen, Vijay Singh, Lee Janzen and many more. His caddie took his bib of and Ben signed it and gave it to me. I still have it hanging in my room. He then told us that anytime we want to go to another tournament just let him know and he will have tickets for us waiting.
Later that year the biggest tournament of the year was approaching, The Players Championship. It is held in Ponte Verde Beach, FL at the TPC of Sawgrass. This tournament is the best in the world because the top golfers from the PGA Tour and European Tour duke it out. I convinced my dad and brother to take me so I could watch Ben again. They were happy to take the trip. We have gone to this tournament for the last 3 years and Ben has recorded a top 10 finish every time and over 1 million dollars in earnings.
It was the 2009 Farmers Insurance Championship and just like every tournament I couldn’t attend I was watching Ben’s every shot either on the TV or on the computer. I wished him luck and said win this one. The tournament was held at Torrey Pines in California and it packed a tough field. The likes of Phil Mickelson, Ernie Els and Luke Donald were in the field. Ben shot good scores in the first two rounds. I texted him saying keep it up. After the third round he had a shot to win. So on Sunday I was sitting in front of the TV all day watching his every shot but the easiest shot of the day was his toughest. He has a 5 foot par putt to win the tournament on the 72nd hole. I was so nervous I didn’t know what to do. He stepped over the putt and buried it. I jumped and screamed and began calling everyone I knew. He finally won ending his 4 year drought. I sent him a text saying you did it and congrats and replied, “WE did it and can’t wait to see you in Florida.”
Ben and I still talk regularly. The 2011 season is underway and I told Ben this is going to be your biggest year ever. He feels the same way and can’t wait to have me cheering for him outside the ropes. Who knows maybe you will see me on TV cheering for him.
Here is a brief video of Ben Crane saying hello to Brian for the first time in person after his win at the Farmers Insurance Open at the 2010 Players Championship.