Before he became a successful Rochester businessman, Arizona course owner and Lourdes High School's golf coach for 29 years, Tom Murphy was a 19-year-old college student looking for a bag to loop in the 1970 U.S. Open at Hazeltine National Golf Club.
Turns out he carried eventual champion Tony Jacklin's bag all week after he won the job in a ballot he didn't attend.
"Back in those days, we weren't allowed to take our own caddies," Jacklin said. "Caddies had to go in a ballot. Tom had a golf game fixed that day and he couldn't be there, but he gave a friend his driver's license. His friend pulled my name out of the barrel, as it were. It became a bit of a story."
It became so because Jacklin won the British Open the previous summer and came to Chaska its champion. By the time he went back home to England, he had won a second major championship by the age of 26 after he shot the only subpar score in a gale the first day and built his lead every day after that on the way to Sunday's seven-shot victory.
Jacklin won the big U.S. Open trophy and a $30,000 check that changed his caddie's life.
"Tom got 10 percent of the $30,000 and that put him through his college," Jacklin said. "He became a multimillionaire, had a sports bar right downtown Rochester next to the Mayo Clinic. When I would go there for checkups and stuff, he'd pick me up."
Jacklin spoke last weekend by phone about the 50th anniversary of his U.S. Open, days before this year's delayed U.S. Open begins in September on Thursday.
Murphy owned and operated four Rochester restaurants and bars and co-owned Lone Tree Golf Club in Chandler, Ariz., not far from where he graduated college at Arizona State. He coached his alma mater Rochester Lourdes High School boys' golf teams for 29 years. His teams won six state team championships and four individual state champions and he was inducted into the Hall of Fames for the Minnesota State Golf Coaches Association, the Lourdes Foundation and Rochester Quarterbacks club.
Jacklin and Murphy attended Hazeltine National's 50th anniversary celebration together in 2012 and Murphy told the gathering how his unlikely partnership with a British Open champion came to be. Jacklin donated his golf bag — the one Murphy carried all that week — to the club. It remains on display in Hazeltine National's own clubhouse museum.
"I had already won the [British] Open the year before, so this local guy is now on Tony Jacklin's bag," Jacklin said, "and when he came back to claim his place, it hadn't actually been him. He tricked everybody."
The two played golf with one of Jacklin's Mayo Clinic doctors not long before Murphy died from a heart attack at age 63 in May 2014.
"Very sad," said Jacklin, now 76. "There but for the grace of God … Lovely, lovely man. I was happy to spend quite a bit of time with him toward the end of his life."