David Podas learned to love the game of golf while caddying at Hiawatha Golf Club as a kid. He eventually made his mark as the head pro at Minneapolis Golf Club before heading west to the lush surroundings of exclusive Bel-Air Country Club in Los Angeles.
Podas held the course record there for about six months in 2007 after he carded a 7-under-par 63 playing in a foursome with broadcaster Al Michaels.
“It’s been wonderful,” Podas said of his journey.
He has rubbed elbows with celebrities and top professionals, yet one of his greatest career thrills comes this week as a participant in the 3M Championship. Podas received one of the four sponsor’s exemptions into this week’s field at TPC Twin Cities in Blaine.
The tournament begins Friday.
Podas was all smiles on the driving range Tuesday, with his father, Gary, nearby.
“It’s hard to describe what this means to me,” David Podas said. “It’s so hard to get on out here. The Champions Tour is such a showcase.”
Behind the scenes it’s believed Champions Tour regular Corey Pavin, a member at Bel-Air, lobbied 3M Championship tournament director Hollis Cavner for a spot for Podas.
“He got in on his own merit,” Pavin said Tuesday with a smile. “He’s a heck of a good player. He usually beats me when we play at Bel-Air. I know he’s going to really enjoy it out here this week.
“This can be a bomber’s course. He’s a good ball-striker and putts well. He could do well, I think.”
Fuzzy the “Great”
Fan favorite Fuzzy Zoeller is no stranger to nicknames and monikers.
“Hey, babe!” Dana Quigley called out when Zoeller arrived to the 3M Championship driving range, to which Zoeller responded, “Nice to see ya, Bub.”
Zoeller, though, gets a new handle this weekend — “Great.” The 1979 Masters champion is not entered in the 3M Championship but is on site as part of the annual Greats of Golf challenge. Zoeller, who has finished 62nd or worse in each of the past three years at the 3M, is paired with Lee Trevino and David Graham in Saturday’s Greats of Golf.
Kenny Perry arrived with little fanfare Tuesday. This year’s Senior Player’s and U.S. Senior Open champion carried his own bag to the driving range over his right shoulder and lugged another pile of clubs in his left hand.
“Caddies should be running to help you this year!” Blaine McCallister cackled from nearby.
For the record, Perry’s usual caddie did show up.
Three more players withdrew from the 3M Championship on Tuesday, bringing the total to six for the tournament.
Former tournament champion D.A. Weibring was replaced by Rod Spittle, while Jeff Hart is in for Dick Mast and John Inman for Scott Hoch.
Additionally, Edinburgh USA professional Don Berry claimed one of Tuesday’s qualifying spots at Victory Links. Berry, a sponsor’s exemption last year before he tied for 46th, earned a spot after a playoff. Ronnie Black, Jim Carter, Bruce Vaughan and Mark Bucek also qualified.