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Neff 'still waiting to wake up' from Presidents Cup dream

October 04, 2005|By TIM KOELBLE

koelble@herald-mail.com

Dan Neff had his share of memories on a golf course and he didn't have to pick up a club to get them.

The Boonsboro resident and Smithsburg golf coach was one of hundreds who served in a variety of capacities during the recently completed Presidents Cup in Prince William County, Va., won by the United States.

"I felt tickled like a little kid," Neff said. "I was thinking, 'This can't be real.' I'm still waiting to wake up."

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As a roving marshall, Neff was assigned to a group each day by Colonel Richard Johns, executive director of the Middle Atlantic PGA.

Neff said Sept. 22's opening ceremonies "left a tear in your eye with all the anthems of the representing countries."

His opening assignment was with Tiger Woods and Fred Couples, who battled Retief Goosen and Adam Scott.

"I met the players and their caddies on the practice green and then you would escort them to the first tee, and from that point you were with them from tee-to-green until the end," said Neff. "During the match you would report the scores of each player to the referee, and I'd help take care of any errant shots that made the gallery have to move."

On opening day, Neff also had the opportunity along the seventh hole to meet and shake hands with former presidents Bill Clinton and George H. Bush, former first lady Barbara Bush and PGA commissioner Tim Finchem.

"We all chatted for a bit and when we left I got a hug from Mrs. Bush and she said, 'See you in heaven,'" Neff said. "I walked for a minute and as I turned around to her, it was like she was waiting for my reaction and we gave each other a thumbs-up."

After any of the matches, Neff said he and the other marshalls were in charge of getting players off the course or to the practice range.

"Tiger didn't want any part of it," said Neff. "He stayed out on the course for the other four matches. He was really interested and really team-oriented."

Sept. 23, Neff was linked with Scott Verplank and Justin Leonard going against Michael Campbell and Angel Cabrera. Sept. 24 called for double duty, and in the morning group he drew Phil Mickelson and Chris DiMarco against Peter Lonard and Nick O'Hern.

Neff said he was about 10 feet away from the tee box when DiMarco nailed a hole-in-one.

"Mickleson is so relaxed out on the course," said Neff. "You know once he starts with the fist-pump that things are going to start happening."

"(The Cup) obviously was different than a regular tour event, with the atmosphere and how the players engage themselves together," Neff said. "As a roving marshall, they expect you to relate to them and to be normal.

"I've got even more respect for these guys and what they do," he said. "When they are on the course, they are all business. It's amazing how they plan their shots."

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