Louisville painter lives dream of caddying PGA Championship - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Louisville painter lives dream of caddying PGA Championship

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- As he stood in front of Valhalla Golf Club’s signature 13th hole, it took Mike Waskevich a moment to realize that his goal of being a caddie for the 96th PGA Championship was about to come true.

“I knew when I got here Sunday and got this badge, I knew it was finally going to happen,” said Waskevich, a Louisville resident and avid golf fan who has been a part-time caddie at Valhalla since 2005. “But I don’t think it has really set in yet. This is really a dream come true for me.”

A month ago, Waskevich was constantly checking the results of the PGA Professional National Championship. He knew his only shot of caddying this week’s major event was to connect with one of the 20 club and teaching pros who qualified for the 156-player field.

“All of the touring guys have their own caddies, and I know that,” he said. “So I did some research, Googled them and made some contacts – and ultimately got one guy to express an interest in using a local and that was Matt Pesta.”

Pesta -- a first-year teaching pro at the Lincoln Hills and Springdale golf courses in Bloomington, Mich. -- is also living a dream. His participation in this year’s PGA Championship is his first PGA tour event of any kind.

“Everything has exceeded my expectations, it has been an amazing experience so far,” he said.

Pesta said he wasn’t sure who he was going to use for a caddie until after Waskevich contacted him.

“I felt like having a caddie with local knowledge would be a little bit of an advantage – and Mike impressed me with his professionalism and tenacity to keep contacting me,” said Pesta, 37. “I thought going with a local guy who knows the course better than I would was the best strategical decision to make.”

The two met on Sunday and hit the golf course shortly thereafter.

“It’s been wonderful so far,” said Waskevich, 59, whose job as a caddie includes not only carrying Pesta’s bag and clubs, but also providing yardages as well as some mental support.

“It’s just the two of us out there, so I am going to do my best to encourage him and cheer him on – basically provide him all of the support that he needs,” Waskevich said. “Matt’s goal is to play on Saturday and Sunday and I want to help him achieve that goal.”

Waskevich, who works full time a painter, said he knew it was a slim chance to get Pesta to say yes.

“But I knew that if I didn’t reach out and give it a try, it would never happen,” he said, saying that it was “perseverance,  research and a little bit of luck” that helped him achieve this goal.

Waskevich says caddying the 96th PGA Championship means a lot. He previously attended the 1996 and 2000 championships at Valhalla as a spectator.

“This is my hometown, it’s not only a national spotlight, but there are international players here from all over the world,” he said. “To have it right here at Valhalla, a place I’ve walked around probably several hundred times, is a pretty amazing experience.”

Reporter Antoinette Konz can be reached at 585-0839 or @tkonz on Twitter. Copyright 2014 WDRB News. All rights reserved.

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