How many times have both assistant golf coaches from the same university caddied for a former player in a U.S. Open in the same year?
Nearly never. But that’s what Brent Franklin and Brandon White, assistants for the University of Colorado women’s and men’s golf teams, will do at this week’s U.S. Women’s Open. Play begins Thursday in Pinehurst, N.C., on the same course the men completed their championship Sunday.
Both coaches will be caddying for former players they coached, Franklin for CU graduate Jessica Wallace and White for Northern Colorado’s Carleigh Silvers, whom he tutored when he was the Bears’ coach before joining Roy Edwards’ staff last summer.
Wallace and Silvers will be the first players from their alma maters to play in a U.S. Women’s Open.
Wallace, 23, a native of Vancouver, B.C., transferred to CU from Pepperdine before her junior season and credits Franklin as the major factor in her heading to Boulder.
She qualified on May 19 in Georgia, carding a 77-71—148 at Dunwoody Country Club; that was one off the lead in tying for second as she was one of three to advance from that site’s sectional. Wallace also has competed in two LPGA events, both Canadian Opens. She missed the cut last year by two strokes.
There was little hesitation who Wallace wanted as her caddy for the most important tournament in her young career.
“Jess sent me a text right after she finished … something like, ‘I think I just qualified for the U.S. Open,’ and we spoke on the phone five minutes later,” Franklin said.
“It was an obvious decision, he’s been my swing coach ever since I transferred to Colorado,” Wallace said. “He was a big reason that I decided to come to Colorado. He’s caddied for me before, and I trust his opinion so it made sense for me to have him on the bag.”
Franklin has extensive caddying experience, from local and regional to LPGA events across the nation and overseas in Japan.
“I caddied for my wife (Kristine) a few times when she was a professional, and caddied for (former Buff) Emily (Talley) a couple of weeks ago,” said Franklin, who just completed his 12th year as Anne Kelly’s assistant. “I basically caddy almost every single day for the girls when you’re coaching them in a tournament. You’re not carrying their clubs, but that’s what a coach does. You’re mainly there to help them make good decisions.”
Talley, featured on Golf Channel’s “Big Break” last year, asked the longtime Buff assistant to be on her bag in the LPGA’s ShopRite Classic.
“There will definitely be a sense of comfort and familiarity in having Brent caddy for me,” Wallace said. “Really, there has been nobody that has seen me play golf more than Brent, so there will be a calming factor having him out there with me.”
And while a first-timer is always a long shot, Wallace would join an exclusive CU club if she should win: Hale Irwin won three U.S. Opens (1974, 1979, 1990) and Steve Jones captured one (1996), giving the school four in all.
White, too, has a solid history of caddying, among those for his former roommate of three years, Kevin Stadler, a PGA Tour event winner.
“As a player, playing in the U.S. Open was always a goal, so being in it even as a caddy is going to be a lot a fun,” White said. He advanced to the sectional qualifying on a couple of occasions.
Silvers, also 23, graduated from UNC in 2013 and has since, “dedicated herself 100 percent to professional golf,” according to White. “For her to qualify for the U.S. Open in her first year as a pro is nothing short of an amazing accomplishment. She’s had a tremendous year … she’s made the cut in every event she’s played in this season, about 15 events between the Cactus Tour in Arizona and the Symetra Tour.”
This is the first time that the same course is hosting both the men’s and women’s U.S. Open tournaments in back-to-back weeks. Germany’s Martin Kaymer was the wire-to-wire winner of the men’s U.S. Open on Sunday, finishing with a 9-under 271 to win by eight strokes.