July 11, 2012
Oakland head men's and women's golf coach Russ Cunningham will be making his first appearance in the United States Senior Open Championship. Although it will not be as a competitor, Cunningham will be caddying for longtime friend Randy Lewis in the 2012 U.S. Senior Open at Indianwood Golf and Country Club in Lake Orion, Mich.
"I first met Randy at the 2000 USGA Mid-Amateur Championship," said Cunningham. "We've played several rounds together over the years and in 2009 he asked me to caddy for him at Hawk Hollow for the U.S. Senior Open qualifier, which he finished as the first alternate and later got into the championship."
The 54-year-old Lewis was named the GAM Golfer of the Decade for the 1990s and Cunningham earned that distinction for the 2000s. Both players have established themselves in the amateur world and Cunningham was excited when he received the phone call from Randy to carry his bag in the 2012 U.S. Senior Open.
"I was not able to caddy for Randy at the 2009 U.S. Senior Open, because of my schedule" said Cunningham. "So I was excited to be able to make it work this year with Indianwood being a local site. Yesterday we played with Jay Haas and Jeff Sluman and Randy was able to roll in a 35-foot putt in front of a pretty large crowd on the last hole, which was exciting."
Lewis was given a special invitation to the U.S. Senior Open after winning the 2011 U.S. Mid-Amateur, 3 and 2, over two-time defending champion Kenny Cook at Shadow Hawk Golf Club in Richmond, Texas. He competed in his first-ever Masters this past April, shooting 81 and 78 in the first and second rounds to miss the cut. In his other appearance in the U.S. Senior Open in 2009, Lewis carded back-to-back rounds of 78 at Crooked Stick in Carmel, Ind., missing the cut.
"Randy is not coming in to this week at 100 percent," said Cunningham. "But he is a tough competitor and we are going to have a lot of fun."
Cunningham has been working hard out on the golf course with Lewis, along with fulfilling his duties as head men's and women's golf coach at Oakland. He credits his recruiting over the last couple of weeks for getting him in shape to carry Lewis' bag this week.
"I spent over nine hours a day on the golf course watching the top junior golfers from the Midwest," said Cunningham. "Walking around and following these talented players helped prepare me for this week of caddying."
Cunningham just completed his first season as head coach of both golf programs at OU. Under his tutelage, first-year junior walk-on Nick Cunningham recorded the best-ever score at The Summit League Championship for an OU player, finishing fourth at 2-under-par (68-72-71=211). Senior Liz Ecker posted her top score at the women's league tournament, shooting 227 (70-81-76/+11) to finish in a tie for eighth place. That mark ranks fourth in program history.
The U.S. Senior Open will begin on Thursday, with Cunningham and Lewis teeing off at 1:20 p.m. on hole No. 10. Friday's tee time will be at 8:20 a.m. off No. 1. You can follow the action here.