Rock music and golf generally don't have a lot of crossover; while guys like Alice Cooper have actually achieved some distinction in the game, for most it's more of a goof, a way of killing time while not killing brain cells. And for rock stars like Bruce Springsteen, champion of the blue-collar worker, well, golf doesn't quite fit into the image.
But then, the image doesn't always fit real life, either. That's why Vini Lopez, Springsteen's first drummer, will be caddying in his very first U.S. Open later this month. Lopez loops for longtime club pro Mark McCormick, and on Monday, the unlikely duo won one of four invitations to the Open at the sectional qualifying in (of course) New Jersey.
McCormick is a fascinating story all his own; he's 49 years old and has never played in a major. He told ESPN's Ian O'Connor that this was his last shot, his final attempt at playing in an Open ... and he'd be bringing Lopez along for the ride.
"And it finally happened," Lopez told O'Connor. "Maybe if I were playing with Bruce before 90,000 people in Hamburg, Germany, I'd feel differently about it. But to me there's nothing like watching Mark hit great shots and putt like a demon and qualify for the Open. That's the dream for me."
Lopez played with Springsteen in the proto-E-Street Band Steel Mill (check out some of their late 60s/early 70s work right here) but clashed with Springsteen. And as with most conflicts where you're going up against The Boss, Lopez was out, just a year before Springsteen released "Born To Run" and changed rock music as we know it. Since then, he's appeared onstage with Springsteen on a few occasions, like this one from 2009:
McCormick also had the added burden of knowing his son was in the field; young Ryan McCormick didn't fare as well as his father. But there will be more chances. For now, this is Mark's time, and Vini is along for the ride.
So Lopez heads out on that highway filled with broken heroes, on a last-chance power drive. Maybe he'll help guide McCormick to an amazing finish, maybe they'll be done by the weekend. Either way, he'll be one of the better stories of the Open's first couple days. And if nothing else, he could teach the Golf Boys a thing or two about real music.