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Q+A Derek Tolan The 16-year-old qualifier from Denver shot 78-88 to miss the cut at the Open, but nobody had more fun

June 24, 2002
June 24, 2002

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June 24, 2002

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Q+A Derek Tolan The 16-year-old qualifier from Denver shot 78-88 to miss the cut at the Open, but nobody had more fun

By Derek Tolan Edited By Alan Shipnuck

SI: Looking at that first cut of rough growing on your cheeks,
I'm wondering if you shave yet.

This is an article from the June 24, 2002 issue Original Layout

DT: Not really. Every now and then it starts to look bad and
I'll borrow a razor, but it's not a regular thing.

SI: Do you have your driver's license?

DT: I passed the test last year when I turned 16. It was a
different kind of nervous--not exactly like playing in the U.S.
Open, but definitely stressful.

SI: What do you roll back in Colorado?

DT: My grandpa's 1992 Tercel.

SI: Have you enjoyed driving your courtesy car this week?

DT: My dad won't let me get behind the wheel. It's a Grand
Marquis. I guess I'm not ready yet.

SI: What other goodies come with playing in the Open?

DT: Actually, you don't get a lot of free stuff, which is too
bad. But I did get a player's badge, which is pretty
sentimental. I'm going to try to earn a bunch of those in the
years to come.

SI: Have you been starstruck?

DT: It's been cool to see all the big guns walking around the
locker room, guys I'm used to watching on TV. They've been
really nice and welcoming. Guys will come up to me on the range
and say, "Good luck, Derek," and I'm like, Wow, how did he even
know my name?

SI: You teed it up with some top players during the practice
rounds. Highlights?

DT: Steve Jones was really helpful. A U.S. Open champ doesn't
have to be nice to a kid he doesn't even know, but I really
learned a lot talking to him. On Wednesday I played with Darren
Clarke and Thomas Bjorn. That was a blast. They're really cool
guys.

SI: Did you play for money?

DT: They did, but I'm too poor. I just watched.

SI: Don't you get an allowance?

DT: Nah. I do sell old clubs for a profit sometimes.

SI: So what's been your favorite moment this week?

DT: Probably my approach to 18 [on Thursday], when I hit it to
like six feet. The crowd went wild. It was a bit different from
the kind of cheers I get at junior tournaments.

SI: Have any teenage groupies been following you?

DT: I've noticed a couple of girls out there. I don't mind that
at all.

SI: All in all, how would you describe the U.S. Open experience?

DT: It's been unbelievable. On the 1st tee [on Thursday] I was
so nervous I was walking funny. I don't know how I even swung
the club, but I did.

THREE COLOR PHOTOS: JOHN BIEVER (3)