Rainaud was a 16 seed with a chance

Cromwell

It's like no other sport. Think about it. Joe Average Golfer, the guy who might explain rotten scoring on a particular hole as hitting "driver, sand wedge, sand wedge, sand wedge," gets to play in the same tournament, competing for the same prize money and watched by the same galleries as all the big guys.

And isn't that the true appeal of Travelers Week?

We get to see people we know and hang out with tee it up next to Bubba.

Because, really, people we know don't get to catch passes from Eli Manning on Sundays or pitch to Big Papi.

And yet this was Adam Rainaud, the assistant pro at Black Hall Club in Old Lyme. The 28-year-old who teaches the game to the membership, suddenly out there at TPC at River Highlands, with the membership hanging on his every swing. The last two days at River Highlands have been a lot like the NCAA tournament's first two days: about Davids who believe in slingshots.

Adam Rainaud, a 16 seed with his chance, missed the cut after shooting rounds of 72 and 73 to finish at 5 over 145.

"Every day's been the four best days of my life so far, as least golf wise," Rainaud said. "Really fun. So neat."

He had quite the gallery following, too. This is the byproduct of loyalists from Black Hall and old friends from his native South Hadley, Mass. Imagine. The kid who played in big matches constantly at Louisville gets his real first swing just a little ways from home.

"Ever since I was six and first swung a club,' he said. "All through elementary school and middle school, I would draw pictures of golf courses and clubhouses. I told everyone one day I'm going to be on the PGA Tour."

Or at least playing right next to them.

"I went to Q school in 2008 and thought my game was good enough. I came really close," Rainaud said. "I always thought I'd like to be a head gold professional. I like people and I like teaching. What I do now at Black Hall I love it. I get to live in Old Lyme half the year and Palm Beach half the year."

Rainaud gives us a connection to the tournament.

This is significant, unless you are a diehard who might issue a particular gasp at the withdrawal of Louis Oosthuizen.

"The biggest benefit for us is that our membership is so excited that Adam is up there," Black Hall head professional Andrew Campbell said. "Normally, sure, there's interest in the event. But there's way more this year. A lot of our members were following it online, too. 'He parred the first. Sweet.'"

Even Old Lyme CC pro Rob Barbeau was rooting on Rainaud during Thursday's round.

It was Campbell's voice, however, on the other end of the phone Thursday morning. The boss was back at the salt mines, minding the store, while "Adam's Army," as The Day's Gavin Keefe called them, dodged the raindrops.

"Andrew is the best boss," Rainaud said. "He teaches me so much. I've learned so much. He always tries to make sure I can play and I can practice. He's probably back there working his butt off."

It's been established that golf can be cruel. As late Connecticut columnist Randy Smith once said: "Golf is not fun. Good golf is fun." Hence, no guarantees Rainaud, college pedigree notwithstanding, would ever get his shot.

"In the back of my mind, even though I've been working now as a PGA professional I guess for five years as an assistant, I always thought I'd have opportunities to play in big events," Rainaud said, "hopefully from now till I'm 65. The more chances I can give myself, hopefully once in a while I can make something happen. But either way, I'm really going to enjoy it."

Rainaud, by the way, is a UMass fan, remaining Switzerland, mostly, in the UConn-Louisville debate.

"When I grew up, it was Marcus Camby and Derek Kellogg," he said. "I follow Louisville. But Geno and Jim are both members at Black Hall. I like UConn too."

This is the opinion of Day sports columnist Mike DiMauro.

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