Ellet senior golfer Ben Cockerham had no hesitation in describing how it felt to play in the First Tee Open last weekend at famed Pebble Beach Golf Links on the Monterey Peninsula.
“One, I wish I was still there,” Cockerham said Wednesday when asked to look back on his experience at the breathtaking, ocean side venue.
“It was a lot of fun. It definitely exceeded my expectations. The First Tee goes above and beyond for their participants, they put on a great event out there and it’s something I’ll remember forever.”
Cockerham, who won the individual title Sept. 17 in the City Series Golf Championship at Mud Run Golf Course, was chosen to play at Pebble by a panel of judges as one of 81 boys and girls, ages 14 to 18, from 54 First Tee chapters throughout the United States.
He was paired in an official Champions Tour event, playing best-ball format as a junior player, with former Ohio State star Joey Sindelar, 55, a three-time All-American for the Buckeyes and a member of the 1979 NCAA title team.
“It was a neat partnership,” said Cockerham’s father, Jeff, complimenting Sindelar for taking his son under his wing the whole weekend.
Cokerham and Sindelar shot 67-69 in windy conditions on the first two days to make the cut for the final round Sunday, but they closed with a 75 to finish well behind the winning team of Kirk Triplett and Michelle Xie of Silicon Valley.
Still, Cockerham said he was thrilled to play on a course where the greats of the game have competed in five U.S. Opens.
Asked for his most memorable moment, Cockerham said: “Besides being able to go to the hospitality and get all the food I wanted, it was just being on Pebble Beach and being able to play that course with as great a guy as Joe Sindelar. He just made it even better.”
He said Sindelar put him at ease from beginning to end.
“Definitely. He said we were going to have fun, not to worry too much about the score and that the main goal,” Cockerham said, “was just to enjoy ourselves.”
In addition to his father, Cockerham’s mother, Kim, his sister Amy, 28, and his uncle and caddie, Mark Goettel, also made the trip.
Ed Meyer can be reached at 330-996-3784 or at email@example.com.