A few moments after Jordan Spieth blasted a shot from the PGA tee box, an amateur in the fivesome paused before teeing up at No. 1 and deadpanned to the crowd, “This one’s for the kids at the orphanage.”
With that, Bill Murray began his five-hour round with Spieth at the Dean & DeLuca pro-am on Wednesday.
For the few thousand fortunate enough to walk with the group, it was the chance to witness two men at the apex of their craft. Few play golf better than Spieth, and few have ever played an audience any better than Murray.
They both work at what they do, but each possesses an innate ease at their job that is simply God-given. We mortals just enjoy it.
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The chance to play with Spieth is what pulled Murray to Colonial for a second consecutive year. Event planners had tried to land Cameron Diaz, who pulled out because of a scheduling conflict; actor Andy Garcia, swimmer Michael Phelps and Catherine Zeta Jones were not able to make it work despite invites from the marketing company associated with Dean & DeLuca.
Murray could, but he could not commit until late Monday night. He flew in to DFW, went to Dallas, and then ate at a downtown Fort Worth steakhouse before staying the night at a local hotel.
He has no agent. No marketing guy. No “team.” He has a 1-800 number where people fortunate enough to actually get a number can leave their “pitch.” He calls back or he doesn’t. There is no pretense about him at all.
Celebrities, typically, in these scenarios tend to enjoy the free stuff and the crowd, but do not want to be bothered. Wearing an outfit from his own clothing line that screams “Bill Murray,” if Murray could have body surfed with the adoring people at Colonial he would have.
He took hundreds of pictures with fans. He signed countless autographs. He made fun of himself. He made fun of his playing partners. He engaged with the crowd.
He was the Bill Murray you want to be Bill Murray.
Rather than wax nostalgic about one of this generation’s great comic actor’s second appearance at Colonial in as many years, just enjoy these anecdotes from his round.
▪ On the second hole, Murray was stopped by a childhood friend, Bill McGinn, who was holding an enlarged photo of the two when they were in a band called “The Fabulous Dutchmasters” while growing up in Chicago.
“He was a singer,” McGinn said. “He sings just like he does now.”
For those familiar with Murray’s range displayed on Saturday Night Live as Nick The Lounge Singer, and countless other times butchering tunes, he was obviously brilliant.
▪ After he chipped in a shot on the fourth hole, he threw up his club in celebration and kissed the ball before throwing it in to the crowd. Following the round, Murray said of the shot that he did not see, “I must confess I had given up hope. I turned to wipe a tear away.”
▪ Walking down the fairway on the front nine, he was stopped by a young female fan and grabbed her drink.
“What’s in the backwash?” he asked.
It was the same female fan whose drink he shared last year in his appearance when, just like Wednesday, she was underage.
▪ On the ninth hole he was talking to Colonial member John Aughinbaugh, who was carrying the scoreboard for the fivesome. Aughinbaugh asked Murray for his handicap.
“Twelve,” Murray said. “Or thirteen. Or fourteen. Or nine. I haven’t played enough to make a handicap in 12 years.”
▪ While signing an autograph on a young Chicago Cubs fan’s jersey near the 10th hole, he asked the boy, “Can you just stop your heart from beating, please?”
▪ Walking up 11, a pair of female fans were screaming for Murray to which he said, “I can’t hear you hon’.”
As he signed DVD covers, a fan told him that Groundhog Day is his favorite movie. “That’s a good one,” Murray said. “You have good taste.”
▪ On 12, Spieth was preparing for a putt. Murray then stopped down and screamed to the audience, “Come on! Let’s hear it for him! He’s a local guy!”
▪ Thirteen was the highlight of Murray’s golf day. The famous par-3 party hole was the location of Murray’s best tee shot — an approach that landed 10-feet from the pin. After he threw his club into the air in celebration, he followed that up with a birdie attempt.
As the ball rolled toward the cup, a fan shouted one of Murray’s most famous lines from Caddyshack - “It’s in the hole!”
It was indeed, which led to the biggest cheer all afternoon for Murray, who danced and even flirted with taking off his shirt.
▪ After his tee shot on 14, he posed for a photograph with a pair of volunteers, Bobbie Marrow and Ashley Marrow. “Come on, now!” Murray said as all three posed. “Suck in that gut!”
▪ Before walking to the 15th tee box, he took a snack break where he enjoyed a lobster roll. “These lobsters fought their way out of the sea,” he said before taking a bite.
▪ Signing autographs for young boys after he finished the 16th hole, Murray appeased the kids — and the handful of us fortunate to be within ear shot — when he said, “Big hitter - the lama.”
It’s one of at least 10 famous lines Murray uttered from the movie Caddyshack. The movie was made in 1980, and on Wednesday a handful of kids who were born this century quoted it for him.
▪ And just before playing partner Philip Mintz teed off at the 18th hole, Murray screamed, “Wait a second — can we have a hand for this guy? He’s given up body building to pursue golf and women!”
After Mintz hit a less-than-perfect tee shot, Murray told Mintz, “There are some women over there.”
▪ After making his final putt on 18, he yelled at an adoring, cheering crowd, “Thank you! Thank you! You’re wonderful!”
No, you were! Please come see us again.
Mac Engel: @macengelprof