RALEIGH — Carter Jenkins stood on the practice range Tuesday at TPC Wakefield Plantation, smashing drive after drive into the distance.
Nearby, his caddie kept a close eye on things. A week ago, Grayson Murray was the one hitting balls on a range – at Merion Golf Club, before the U.S. Open.
That Murray toted the bag for Jenkins last week in the Rex Hospital Open is a testament to their friendship.
They once were golf teammates at Leesville Road High and will be united again next year on the college level at UNC Greensboro.
When Murray made the 36-hole cut three years ago in the Web.com Tour event at Wakefield, at 16, Jenkins was in the gallery urging him on. Now, Murray can repay the favor in his own way.
“I had such a fun experience,” Murray said of the Open, even though he missed the cut.
“He asked me if I’d caddie for him and I said, ‘Why not? This will be a cool experience for both of us.’ ”
In 2010, Murray became the second-youngest player to survive a cut in a Web.com event.
Having won the Rex Hospital Open Junior Invitational to earn a spot in the field, he then had rounds of 73 and 66.
A year later, Jenkins was the junior winner. Only 15, he came to Wakefield for the 2011 tournament all braces and wide eyes and generally feeling out of place, and promptly shot 76-80 to miss the cut by a wide margin.
But Jenkins, who will be a freshman at UNCG next year, appears a lot more comfortable with his surroundings now.
The braces and glasses are gone. His game is more mature. He also had a 63 in the junior invitational – from Wakefield’s back tees.
“I kind of know what to expect now, having been there, practicing and playing with the pros,” Jenkins said. “I feel like I’ll be a lot better prepared, just having had two more years of experience under my belt.
“Two years ago, I had no idea what to expect. It feels a lot different this year. I feel a lot more calm and collected and not quite so intimidated by everybody, I guess.”
Jenkins shot 70-76 in the first and second rounds Thursday and Friday to finish four over par.