'Oh, God, he stole a putter': How one kid ended up with the souvenir of the RMC
Detroit — Ten-year-old Aiden LeBrun of Newport was hoping for a wave or maybe a golf glove when PGA Tour pro Tyler McCumber walked past him at last week’s Rocket Mortgage Classic. By golf standards, he wound up with a unicorn.
In a unique convergence of adorable fan and abject frustration Friday, Aiden was standing in the tunnel where players walked from the 18th green to either the scoring tent or, if they started the round on the back nine, the first hole.
McCumber, 30, had just four-putted the treacherous 18th green at Detroit Golf Club — missing from 9 feet, 5 feet and 5 more feet, before making from 2 feet — for a triple-bogey 7. It basically eliminated any chance he had of making the cut even with half a round to go. So he declined to give Aiden the glove he asked for or even a far less-coveted golf ball, and instead handed over …
His Tour-quality, tournament-used, you-can’t-find-it-on-eBay Odyssey putter.
Aiden, understandably, was thrilled.
His dad, also understandably, was alarmed.
"He was holding it like he had just won a trophy. He had it above his head," said Jeff LeBrun, who was watching the second round in the Spirit of Detroit suites between the 18th and 10th fairways.
"My first thought was, 'Oh, God, he stole a putter.' He's a little aggressive, getting in places he shouldn't be.
"I was a little nervous," Jeff said with a laugh.
But Aiden's friend who was with him in the tunnel vouched for what happened.
And, this week, so did McCumber, who spoke to The News from the Callaway compound in California — where he was getting fitted for, yeah, you guessed it.
"I needed to shake things up," said McCumber, who's given away putters before, but never in a middle of a round — and while he has putted with his wedge before, never for nine holes of tournament play.
"The wand wasn't magic. Hopefully it's magic for that kid."'
And you thought catching a foul ball was awesome.
Even a simple signature was hard to come by at the Rocket Mortgage Classic. Per PGA Tour pandemic policy, autographs are forbidden, and most pros obeyed the rule (though not all: more on that in a moment).
Some of them found wiggle room with fan interaction — a souvenir version of improving a lie — by handing out one of the balls or gloves they get from sponsors by the carton.
Those are nice. But a putter?
"I couldn't believe his face," Jeff said. "He was so excited."
The LeBruns are a golf family — mom Katie played at Eastern Michigan; Aiden started playing last year — and they attended all four days of the third annual event. As if one ace of a memento wasn’t enough, Aiden scored another gem Sunday: Joaquin Niemann's autographed hat, bestowed with considerable grace under the circumstances, after Niemann had been eliminated from the playoff won by Cam Davis.
As for McCumber, of Jacksonville, Florida, he’s also from a golf family. His dad, Mark, was a 10-time winner on the PGA Tour.
Tyler actually shot even par on his second nine Friday, without the putter ("It was a strategic play," he said, with a laugh). A rule much more ironclad than the one about autographs says you can’t replace a club mid-round unless it's damaged, and even then it can only be replaced if the damage was caused by an outside force and not the golfer or caddie.
Putting with his lob wedge, McCumber actually made an 11-footer for birdie on No. 1 and a 17-footer for birdie on No. 9. Amazingly, he had 20 putts on the nine when he used a putter, and 14 on the nine when he didn't.
He finished the tournament 2 over par, five strokes below the cut line, after a Friday 76.
"I want to give a shoutout to the player. I tried to find him on Twitter, but he's not on Twitter," said LeBrun, whose daughter Avery, 7, also attended the RMC.
"I told my son, and I don't think he quite understands ... to get a club is almost a Holy Grail-type of item."
Said McCumber, who isn't on Twitter, so couldn't be reached there: "I'm glad it made him happy."
Aiden is “beyond cloud 9,” LeBrun said, so geeked that he asked to go golfing Monday. Usually it's dad who has to ask son to play. They played at Riverview Highlands, where Aiden realized the Odyssey was far too long to be useful, and much too heavy.
He can try again in high school.
McCumber, meanwhile, will tee it up again later this month, either at the Barbasol Championship next week, or the 3M Open after that — with a new putter in the bag, and a family of new fans back in Michigan.
We're running a new-subscriber special. Support local journalism, and subscribe here.