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Michael Kim and LaRue Temple: a match made ... in a parking lot

Eric Adelson
Yahoo Sports

ARDMORE, Pa. – LaRue Temple doesn't have an easy life. A typical day can include caddying here at Merion Golf Club starting at 7 a.m., then getting off work at 3 p.m. and going into Philadelphia to bartend until 2 a.m. Sometimes he DJs on the weekends. There have been days when he does all three.

This was supposed to be a week off for Temple. The U.S. Open was in town, and Temple had tickets. He would hang out with his mom, relax in the grandstand, and cheer for Tiger Woods.

Then, in the wind and wet of a wicked Monday afternoon, something marvelous happened.

Temple, who went to high school locally and attended Philadelphia Community College, was wandering around in the Merion parking lot, waiting for a chance to go watch some golf, when a car pulled up.

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Michael Kim, left, met LaRue Temple in Merion's parking lot. (LaRue Temple Facebook)

A teenager named Michael Kim, a student at Cal, needed a caddie for the U.S. Open. This was not a big-dollar gig. Kim is an amateur. Even if he won the whole blasted tournament, he couldn't take a dime.

Not that a 19-year-old was about to contend for the U.S. Open.

Unless he did.

Kim and Temple got along great, and the boy wonder, who earned college player of the year honors, actually made the cut.

Temple was excited, but he had been in cool settings before. He's looped for celebrities like Samuel Jackson and Dr. J. He used to be a Phillies batboy, and he spent a lot of his childhood at Veterans Stadium getting autographs of stars like Ken Griffey, Jr. This wasn't a huge deal … yet.

Saturday came and crowds mostly gravitated to the guy Temple wanted to see: Tiger. Kim and his caddie walked around Merion to polite claps and the occasional shout-out from a friend.

Not a friend of Kim's; a friend of Temple's.

"LaRuuuuuuuueeeee!!!" they heard again and again.

Temple laughed. Kim did too. "You're more popular than me!" Kim said.

That was about to change. Kim suddenly caught fire on a course that had doused the hopes of professionals more than twice his age, including Tiger. Birdie, birdie, birdie. Fans across the country noticed Kim's name appear on their TV screens, with a lower-case a for amateur reminding them that this was no ordinary player and he was not allowed to take the extraordinary prize money he was lining up to win.

Temple's Facebook feed exploded, though of course he had no idea, since he was on the course, trying not to notice the cameras suddenly pointed at him and his new friend.

He thought to himself about all the times he silently made fun of golfers at Merion who took way too long to size up a putt. "This isn't the U.S. Open," he would think.

"Except this is the U.S. Open!" he realized.

The ropeline buzzed as Kim and Temple lumbered along. "He's my age," 19-year-old Drew Calamaro said of Kim. "Ridiculous."

"He's so skinny," joked another fan.

"He can't be 120 lbs.," said another.

(Kim is 148 pounds, "on a good day," he says. Temple is … more than 148 lbs.)

The scene bordered on adorable, with the willowy Cal kid looking constantly to the burly Philly man, asking for lines and checking for yardages. Temple reassured him, with a nod or a word or some praise, and the two carried on with small talk and fist-bumps.

"He's the show," Temple said.

But really, they both were. On the 16th, Kim pulled his drive left and found an enormous tree blocking his view to the green. He and Temple walked out to the fairway to see around the obstacle, then walked back, figuring out what to do. Kim took out an iron and tucked it behind his ball. Fans at the scene marveled as they realized: The kid was going to blast it through the tree.

The shot disappeared into some leaves … and safely out the other side. Kim looked at Temple, and Temple looked back. Kim nodded. Temple nodded. And on they went.

On this course, on this stage, where even middling pros are millionaires, here was the Roxboro guy who’s been caddying for 16 years and the Korean-American kid who’s been alive for 19 years and they were being watched by millions as they played for nothing and everything.

"I was just happy my mom got to see me on TV," Temple said.

She'll get to see LaRue on TV again Sunday, wearing his Merion bucket hat, as Kim, who finished the day at plus-4, will start the final round of the U.S. Open in a tie for 10th. This is the course where 14-year-old Bobby Jones became a household name almost a century ago, but 19-year-old Michael Kim (and his caddie) are about to be semi-famous themselves.

So how much is Temple getting paid for this week? "I don't know," he says. He and Kim didn't even discuss money because, well, it's the U.S. Freaking Open.

Next weekend, DJ LaRue (he also goes by DJ Tanner) will probably be at it again at Tangier on Lombard Street, fixing up Long Island Ice Teas for the locals.

Sunday, however, he and Kim have another day together, and a puncher's chance at the most ridiculously delightful golf buddy story ever.

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