JOHNS CREEK, Ga. – Rene Rangel is used to hitting the clubs, not carrying them, but after serving as the caddie for his nephew, Roman Robledo, in the 114th U.S. Amateur at Atlanta Athletic Club, he wouldn't mind renewing the gig in the near future.
"I hope we get to do it again. He showed a lot of game this week, and he's got a lot of potential," Rangel said of Robledo, whose run in his first U.S. Amateur ended in the quarterfinals Friday with a 3-and-2 loss to Denny McCarthy.
Rangel knows a little about game. He had some himself, having competed in the 1998 U.S. Open at The Olympic Club in San Francisco after advancing through qualifying. He introduced his nephew to golf when Robledo was 10 years old and serves as the young man's swing coach. Though he had caddied for Robledo in a few tournaments, this was their first collaboration in a national championship.
"It was very special," said Robledo, 21, of Harlingen, Texas, who earned All-American honors for the Cougars last season after winning four tournaments. "He knows my game in and out, he taught me to play golf, and he was a very calming influence all week. He just kept telling me 'rhythm' and 'keep calm,' and I did a pretty good job of that for the most part. I kept my nerves under control for the most part.
"I didn't play to my potential today, but Denny played very well, and he deserved to win," Robledo added. "Overall, I had a good time. It was nice to get this far, but I am pretty disappointed in how I played today."
"Today he just didn't have it, but that's golf," said Rangel, who is still in the golf business, running a course management company in the Houston area. "But he showed a lot of guts out there. You move on and you learn from it, and you hope to see him move forward."
Robledo returns for his senior year at the University of Houston and already was looking forward to a big season. Houston has won 16 NCAA national championships, second only to Yale, but its last came in 1985. The No. 1 player for the Cougars, Robledo said he and a young crop of teammates are intent on changing that.
"It's called Project 17, and, yeah, we think we will have a good team this year," Robledo said. "We are all pretty excited about it. We have a great group of freshmen coming in. I'm ready to start working again tomorrow. That's our goal. Hopefully, we can do some damage."
Dave Shedloski is an Ohio-based freelance writer who writes frequently for USGA websites.