Marc Turnesa was helping out a friend last week, and at the same time returning to the sort of PGA Tour battleground that has gotten the best of him during his pro career.
If you happened to catch the broadcast of the first two rounds of the Workday Charity Open from Muirfield Village on Thursday and Friday, that was Turnesa caddying for his buddy Brooks Koepka, the four-time major championship winner. Koepka’s caddie, Ricky Elliott, had tested positive for COVID-19 and Koepka called on his pal and Jupiter, Florida, neighbor.
“It was nice to get back out there for a while, even though Brooks missed the cut,” Turnesa said. “It’s nice to see the guys playing, lot of familiar faces.”
Turnesa is the 42-year-old former Long Islander and descendant of an accomplished golfing family going back generations. His father Mike, whom he lost to a stroke two years ago, was the longtime head pro at the Rockville Links Club.
Marc's great-uncle, Jim, won the 1952 PGA Championship. His grandfather, Mike, won six times on the PGA Tour. Six of Mike's brothers also played on tour, including Joe, a 15-time winner. Brother Willie, the only one to remain an amateur, twice won the U.S. Amateur and had a British Amateur win.
After playing golf and graduating from North Carolina State in 2000, Marc Turnesa moved to Florida to pursue a pro career. After beating it around in the minors for several years, he finally qualified for the PGA Tour by finishing in the top 25 on the Nationwide Tour money list in 2007 after a win and a couple of decent finishes.
After a rough start to his rookie campaign in 2008, he came alive in the fall series, finishing second in the Viking Classic and then winning the Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open by one stroke over Matt Kuchar.
Success seemed imminent, but in 2009 he started experiencing back problems that significantly impacted his swing and ability to play. They lingered until the 2013 season and by then he just wasn’t competitive anymore. He played very little the last three years, his last PGA Tour event a missed cut at the Puerto Rico Open in 2019.
“I wasn’t competing, I was trying but it wasn’t working, time to do something else,” Turnesa said. “I lost my confidence. You aren’t going to compete at that level without confidence.”
So he changed his life around. He got his Florida real estate license in early 2018, started flipping houses (six so far) and six months ago his wife, Kate, gave birth to daughter Ryan.
He says he met Koepka when they both used the same athletic trainer in 2013. And when he first played with Koepka, he knew he was special. “We played at Medalist and he shot 65 or 66 in the wind and made it look easy,” Turnesa said. “And I was like, wow, if this guy isn’t winning golf tournaments something is wrong.”
Now their lives have gone in different directions.
“I wasn’t making any money playing golf,” he said. “But the market here is hot. People are buying homes.”
And he’s buying into a new career.
NY Open gets state OK. The state has given the go-ahead to the New York Open, a mainstay on the Black Course at Bethpage since 1994. The tournament, originally scheduled for this week but postponed because of the COVID-19 pandemic, will be held Aug. 25-27. The state also approved holding the 118th Met Amateur Championship on the Black July 30-Aug. 2.
Mitch Cohen, Hamlet G&CC No. 3, 157 yards, 7-iron
Kevin Cooley, Eisenhower White No. 5, 201 yards, 5-wood
Craig Murphy, Cold Spring CC No. 3, 132 yards, pitching wedge
Dan Ragone, Holbrook CC No. 11, 134 yards, pitching wedge
Richard Sondak, Lake Success GC No. 8, 142 yards, 6-iron
Ed White, Timber Point Blue No. 2, 137 yards, 8-iron