ON THE TEE: ‘PRETTY BOY’
Signorin gets chance to caddie for cousin on Champion’s Tour
It was just one of many surreal moments for Signorin last Sunday.
An avid golfer his entire life, Signorin got the chance to step inside the ropes and go to work alongside many of the game’s legends without ever hitting a single shot during the Sanford International, a stop on the PGA Champion’s Tour, at Minnehan Country Club in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
And Signorin has his cousin to thank.
Joe Jurecic, a 51-year-old former math teacher at West Iron Public Schools on the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, was in the field and he asked Signorin to serve as his caddie for the third and final round last Sunday.
To say Signorin used those afternoon hours to soak in years worth of memories would be an understatement.
“Goosebumps was the word I used all day,” Signorin said. “For me being, around the legends and getting to watch Jay experience a once-in-a-lifetime moment that is hopefully just the beginning for him was unbelievable. We go to the (driving) range and he’s hitting balls right next to the Ryder Cup captain (Steve Stricker), so I was just wiping away the goosebumps and thinking I can’t mess up.”
The moment of levity with his nickname came on the opening tee. Jurecic was paired with 1989 British Open champion Mark Calcavecchia for the final round and the 13-time PGA Tour winner was tipped off to Signorin’s moniker by Matt Ross, on Twitter no less.
“We shook hands and (Calcavecchia) said, ‘You must be pretty boy.’ His wife (who was also his caddie) didn’t know what he was talking about and even Jay was curious, but I guess that Matt Ross had sent him a tweet about it the night before,” Signorin said. “But after the nerves of meeting Calcavecchia and his wife, it was more about having fun, being with Jay and living in the moment.”
Jurecic’s path to the Champion’s Tour event was northing short of remarkable. After winning the Michigan Sr. Open in late July, he decided to take a chance on himself. On Aug. 7, he resigned as a teacher in order to pursue a path to the Champion’s Tour; he’ll attempt to make it through Q-school later this year.
Signorin caddied for Jurecic at a Dakotas Tour event in Okoboji earlier this summer and told his cousin that he’d be there if needed once Jurecic reached the biggest stage. Signorin had no idea it would happen so soon, but a 10-under 61 at Bakker Crossing Golf Course qualified Jurecic for the Sanford International. He used a local caddie for the opening two rounds and then called upon his relative to bring him home.
“I woke up at 4:30 in the morning to make it out there on time,” Signorin said. “I know how to caddie, but I was nervous the entire way out there. I got there and I literally just walked in the caddie tent and (Tiger Woods’ first professional caddie) Fluff (Cowan) opened the door for me. I just went in there and acted like I knew what I was doing.”
Over the 18-hole journey, Signorin discussed shots with Jurecic and didn’t get in the way. But more than anything, he simply enjoyed the experience with his cousin.
“I don’t know that I helped at all, but we just had a good time discussing shots,” Signorin said. “The best part was how much support he had. All of the volunteers knew his name just from playing on the Dakotas Tour so much, and he was giving away balls almost every other hole to kids. We were just cherishing the moment.”
Jurecic shot a 77 in the final round and shared 79th place with Calcavecchia on the final leaderboard. Darren Clarke, another former British Open champion, won the tournament in a playoff over Steve Flesch and KJ Choi.
It was Signorin’s first time serving as a caddie on such a big stage, but as long as his cousin keeps his phone number, he’s hoping it may not be the last.