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SportsColumnistsMark Herrmann

Golf fan and Islanders star John Tavares helps out PGA player

John Tavares of the Islanders celebrates his first

John Tavares of the Islanders celebrates his first period goal against the Pittsburgh Penguins during Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals. (May 11, 2013) Photo Credit: Jim McIsaac

Graham DeLaet got even more out of The Barclays in New Jersey last weekend than his $528,000 check for a second-place tie with Tiger Woods, Justin Rose and Gary Woodland. He struck up a friendship with the Islanders' John Tavares.

"I'm a huge hockey fan and he's a superstar," said DeLaet, from Saskatchewan. DeLaet's caddie, Julien Trudeau of Quebec, likes to wear the cap of a nearby NHL team at every tournament. DeLaet did not know how to get an Islanders hat, so he reached out to the Islanders' franchise player.

"I just sent him a tweet. We started direct messaging a bit and he said he's a big golf guy," said the tour pro, a Flames fan. By the time the first round started, Trudeau had a pair of light blue caps with Islanders logos, which he wore throughout the four days, including Sunday, when his boss made a run and finished only one shot behind.

Tavares is a fervent golfer, having improved from a 19 to a 12 handicap since he reached the NHL. Anthony Cancro, his teaching pro at Tam O'Shanter in Brookville (and an Islanders diehard), said Tavares' improvement on the tee and fairways is like his development on the ice -- and from the same source. Cancro said that all the work that Tavares has done on his skating has paid off by giving him a stronger base and better lower body strength for his golf swing.

Sebonack helps out

Sebonack Golf Club will effectively be a co-host of the Walker Cup this week.

Michael Pascucci, the club's founder and owner, said a path has been cut through the woods that separate Sebonack and the National Golf Links of America, which will host the big amateur match between the United States and Great Britain and Ireland. Golfers already have been using it to practice on Sebonack's spacious driving range (National does not have a range). They also have been practicing on the course at Sebonack.

During the weekend, players in the Walker Cup will be staying in Sebonack's cottages, which normally are inhabited by the members. Even though Sebonack will be open, there will be 20 slots reserved on the range at all times for Walker Cup golfers. Pascucci added that the postmatch dinner Sunday night will be in Sebonack's clubhouse.

The details have been in the works for two years between the clubs, Pascucci said. Both the Walker Cup and the U.S. Women's Open, which was held in June at Sebonack, are U.S. Golf Association events.

For a good cause

What does a person do after playing 54 holes in a day? Fight the urge to play more. That was the case for Kevin Shinnick, caddie master and starter at Old Westbury Golf & Country Club, who raised close to $13,000 in a golf marathon for the Long Island Caddie Scholarship Fund at Garden City Country Club on Monday. "I actually felt pretty good," Shinnick said, adding that he didn't want to play more because his many sponsors at Old Westbury were paying by the hole and he didn't want to stick them with a bigger bill. "I'm really thankful for them."

The cause literally hits home for Shinnick, whose daughter, Bridget is studying pre-med at West Virginia with the help of a Long Island Caddies Scholarship. Ron Brescio, the caddie master at Rockaway Hunting Club and a longtime supporter of the fund, raised roughly $20,000 by playing 105 holes. He finished with a birdie.

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