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SAN FRANCISCO – We’re there.

Those were the words uttered in one of Mike Auterson’s favorite movies, Dumb and Dumber, when a frost-bitten Lloyd Christmas sputtered into Aspen, Colorado on a moped with Harry Dunne, his best friend clutching on his back, at the end of an improbable, cross-country journey. This week, Auterson and his childhood friend and caddie, Mark Rahall, will make their own journey, not by moped or in a van masquerading as a sheepdog, but by plane from Ohio to California to compete in the 102nd PGA Championship.

“’We’re there, man.’ That quote will probably be used,” Auterson said, imitating Jim Carey’s character. “We’re there.”

Mike Auterson Head Professional Hickory Woods Golf Course

Auterson is one of 20 PGA Club Professionals competing at TPC Harding Park. He is the Head Professional at Hickory Woods Golf Course near his hometown of Milford, Ohio which is 30 minutes north of Cincinnati. In years past, the top 20 was determined based on the top finishers at the PGA Professional Championship. Due to COVID-19, the 2020 Championship was cancelled. Instead, the Team of 20, as they’re known during PGA Championship week, was determined based on the 2019 Professional Player of the Year standings.

While Auterson is excited to be one of the players who earned enough points to join the field at TPC Harding Park, he is also disappointed that the PGA Professional National Championship was cancelled. Auterson was looking for a bit of redemption after coming up short of the playoff at the 2019 Championship, in which he could have earned a trip to the PGA Championship at Bethpage Black. Auterson bogeyed the final two holes in his first PGA Professional National Championship to finish one-stroke outside the playoff.

“I still feel like I deserve to go because I know some of the guys who are going and they’re really good players and I feel like I can hang with them,” Auterson said about getting into the field at the 2020 PGA Championship.

The 35-year-old will also spend the week hanging with his childhood friend and caddie, Mark, who compares to Jeff Daniel’s character, Harry, in Dumb and Dumber. There’s no Ying to a Yang to this friendship, but instead equal parts goofiness.

Mike Auterson Golf Shop

Mike and Mark met as seventh graders and as teens caddied together at a local club in Cincinnati. Back then, Mike and Mark compared themselves to other player-caddie duos like Phil and Bones or Tiger and Fluff. Those now-defunct pairings failed to outlast the test of time like Mike and Mark, or Lloyd and Harry. The decision to honor the commitment Mike made to his childhood friend was an easy one in asking him to caddie for him in his first major championship.

“We have talked about this ever since we were like in high school,” Mike said about Mark. “That was the pipe dream a long time, he would caddie and [we would] be this personality duo out on the golf course and it would be more entertaining to watch us interact than it would be to watch us golf because he is a funny dude.”

What Mark brings is comic relief. If it isn’t obvious based on Mike’s favorite movie, he has an incredible sense of humor, and maintaining that on the golf course in pressure situations is a priority, especially as he makes his PGA Championship debut.

“‘Give me the damn club, I’ll show them myself. You hold the bag, Mike,’” the Head Professional said, imitating his friend and caddie. “There’s this banter that goes on that a funny back and forth game we have had forever, but I love him like an absolute brother.”

Mike Auterson and Caddie Mark Rahall

Mark will be the only family that Mike will have with him in San Francisco. Due to COVID-19 and restrictions on-site, Mike’s wife, Beth, and their three children Charlie, Lily and Joe, will have to watch him compete from home. Given the current state of the world, Mike tried to temper his expectations, anticipating at any moment the PGA Championship could be cancelled or he could test positive for COVID-19. He also knows the experience will be quite different than what his fellow PGA Professionals have experienced in the past with thousands of fans on-site. This week’s PGA Championship will be the first major staged in 2020 and without fans due to COVID-19.

“It’ll just feel like another golf tournament, but a little bit bigger maybe when I’m on the range and you’re hitting balls next to Tiger or Phil,” Auterson said about his major debut. “I’m looking forward to just the overall experience of seeing what it’s all about. It’s going to be something I never experienced.”

Like Lloyd and Harry who dreamed of bigger and better experiences in life, Mike and Mark will realize their own lifelong dream when they arrive on the first tee at the PGA Championship on Thursday. It’s a moment that can described in two, simple words.

We’re there.

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