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19-year-old Ollie Osborne in 'a little bit of shock' to be playing in PGA Tour event

Ollie Osborne
Reno's Ollie Osborne is playing in his first PGA Tour event at age 19. (SMU athletics)

By his own estimation, Ollie Osborne has logged roughly 1,000 rounds at Montreux Golf & Country Club.

While that might seem like an overestimation and a little bit of hyperbole, it’s not. Osborne’s family joined Montreux's membership before there was even a course on the grounds, which made them founding members. The par-72 course was finished in 1997, a couple of years before Ollie was born, so he grew up playing the course.

But when the Reno native tees it up Thursday morning on his home track, it will feel a little different. The 19-year-old, who just finished his freshman year at SMU, will be playing in his first PGA Tour event after earning a spot in the field via the Monday qualifier. Caddying for him will be his older brother, Stephen.

“Honestly a little bit of shock,” Osborne said after a practice round Tuesday. “I didn’t think I’d qualify for a PGA event any time soon. I’m just happy to be in a PGA event and for it to be here is amazing.”

Osborne has been playing the best golf of his life of late. Earlier this month, he qualified for the U.S. Amateur Championship. He also tied the course record at Incline’s Championship course with a 63 and advanced to the Monday qualifier at Dayton Valley Golf Course before earning a spot in the Barracuda after birding the first playoff hole at Hidden Valley.

“It’s almost like a dream come true,” Osborne said of playing a PGA Tour event. “I’ve always wanted to play. I never thought of a moment that I could come here and actually compete. It’s awesome.”

The 2018 Bishop Manogue graduate had a strong freshman season at SMU, playing in all 11 events and averaging 73.79 strokes per round. He won his first college event to start his season and then helped SMU make the NCAA championships at the end of the year. While he won’t be the most experienced or talented player in this week’s Barracuda, he will have one thing on the rest of the field: course knowledge.

“That definitely helps,” Ollie said. “A little course knowledge helps and playing well, I’ll carry some confidence here.”

Ollie’s brother, Stephen, caddied at the Barracuda last year, but he said it will be more special being on his brother’s bag this week. Stephen, who turned pro after graduating from Nevada in May, said the brothers had pledged to caddie for one another if they did qualify for a PGA Tour event. That moment has arrived, earlier than either could have guessed.

“To get to caddie for him means the world to me,” Stephen said. “We have kind of joked around and had the promise that when one of us started playing full time on Tour or play in a PGA Tour event that we’re going to be on the bag for each other. To see that come true for him is awesome. I got to caddie for him on Monday and he battled through my caddying to make it himself. I hope I can give him a few good numbers this week and help him out, but it’s an incredible experience to be here with him.”

For the Osbornes, golf hasn’t been a hobby. It’s been a life-long goal to become professional players, with the pair pouring a good chunk of their lives into the game. Stephen said it was impossible to quantify the numbers of hours they have spent together on the course.

“I don’t know if that one’s possible to answer,” Stephen said with a laugh. “We’ve been doing it since we were really young and I’d say any given day of the week we’re out here 5 to 7 hours together and we do it six, seven days a week, so I’m with him 30, 40, 50 hours a week on the course, at the gym, at home, so we’ve spent at least 10 times more time on the course as anybody else.”

Ollie said he plans on treating the Barracuda “like it’s another tournament” and that Stephen’s presence will help calm him down.

“I love spending time with my brother,” Ollie said. “He makes it so chill out there. To be out there with him is amazing. It’s kind of crazy that I’m here and I get to share it with him. It’s perfect.”

As for expectations, they’re high. Since Ollie is an amateur golfer – he must remain one so he can return to SMU for his sophomore season – he won’t be able to cash a check if he does make the cut this week. But that doesn’t mean he’s not fighting to make it to the weekend. His brother is certainly confident.

“Ultimately, he’s played this course more than anybody" Stephen said. "He knows the greens well. I believe in him to finish at the top and maybe we can get it done on Sunday if he plays really well. He’s been playing really solid. Anyone who Monday qualifies is playing good that week, so I believe in him and what he’ll bring to the course this week.”

Since Ollie made it to a PGA Tour event first, he has bragging rights over his brother, taking them back from Stephen, who out-played Ollie at the NCAA’s Athens Regional in May, which Nevada and SMU both played in (Stephen finished tied for fourth at 3 under while Ollie was tied for 25th at 5 over).

“I’ll just remind him that the pre-qual was one round and the Regionals where we played together was three rounds and I kicked his butt there,” Stephen joked when asked what he’d say if Ollie pulled the bragging rights card. “I’ll still have a little comeback and hopefully I get to play against him a couple times this summer and will try to win bragging rights back. But I’ll let him have this one this week. I’m proud of him.”

Sports columnist Chris Murray provides insight on Northern Nevada sports. Contact him at crmurray@sbgtv.com or follow him on Twitter @MurrayNSN.

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