West Texas Driving Range Pro J.J. Killeen set for Valero Texas Open start with former Tour pro on the bag
If you’re on social media, you’ve likely heard of West Texas Driving Range Pro. J.J. Killeen the former PGA Tour player, who has become an internet sensation, successfully qualified for this week’s Valero Texas Open at TPC San Antonio.
He did so by shooting a 5-under 67 and beating Blake Elliott in a two for one playoff at the Club at Comanche Trace.
After the successful finish, Killeen took to Twitter with a video of him recapping the finish from his car in his typically self-deprecating way.
It’s a #WTDRP 🚨 #nails Emergency Press Conference. Much love @KilleenTasha @truno_tech @CallawayGolf @CallawayDeanT @BradBralston @ForeTPeople @Sub70Apparel @redfeathergc @bourbonandblues. #806Mafia ✌️@JohnPetersonFW on the bag. #PGAtourSZN pic.twitter.com/AMUMpVFA7C
— West Texas Driving Range Pro (@jjkilleentcu) March 29, 2021
“It was awesome, I’ve been super lucky with a nice following on social media and trying to keep it real with people,” Killeen told Caddie Network. “I do a video regardless of whether I get in or not. That was a good one. I know a lot of people on Twitter liked it.
“I’ll tell you that it’s a lot more fun doing those than doing the ones after you didn’t make it through a playoff.”
Killeen says he was in three playoffs in Monday qualifiers in his last seven tries, and so he knows his game is in good shape right now.
“I was there, knocking on the door. You’ve got to shoot 4, 5 or 6 under to even have a chance at that. I was close, it was nice to get through one,” Killeen said.
The 39-year-old Killeen will have his buddy, former PGA Tour pro John Peterson on the bag for him this week.
“We’re not 21 anymore,” the 32-year-old Peterson said. “These guys that do Mondays nowadays are 21, 22. They’re out there seven, eight hours a day hitting balls and playing 18, drinking protein shakes and then going to bed. We’re just out here and it’s all a bonus for us at this point.”
That’s when his player chimed in.
“My goal is somewhere in between winning and not losing all my golf balls,” Killeen joked. “Anywhere in the middle and I’m feeling pretty good.”
Expectations are low. Peterson hasn’t played a PGA Tour event in 2 1/2 years and Killeen hasn’t teed it up in one since the 2015 Valero Texas Open. They’re reminded this week of the perks a Tour event offers.
The equipment trailers, of course, were a big hit this week.
“You should have seen us in the equipment trailers yesterday, it was like we’d never been inside one before. Little did you know that we both played on Tour,” Peterson said. “I hadn’t been in one in three years and he hadn’t been in one in five years. We got him a new 5-iron, a couple drivers, a putter, a couple towels. All sorts of stuff. It was Christmas morning.”
The two friends got to the par-3 14th and had some fun hitting tee shots and Killeen had Peterson relive his near-ace moment there from the 2015 final round.
“We weren’t going to shoot anything, but then we got there and John was like ‘this is the dirtiest lip-out ever.’ And I was like, ‘come on dude, we’ve got to film something’,” Killeen said.
“We had to go back to the scene of the crime where he hit that shot going in at like dripping speed and the pin just hoses it. It was pretty funny.”
It was also funny when Killeen posted this video on Tuesday after Peterson’s first day of caddying.
— West Texas Driving Range Pro (@jjkilleentcu) March 31, 2021
“Minus (playing in the) Monday qualifier, I hadn’t walked 18 holes in forever (two years),” Peterson said. “I thought, ‘how did we do this in college?’ We would walk 36 holes in September at 100 degrees. I just forgot what it was like. It was way harder than I remember. But caddying is hard, period. I give credit to those guys because it’s tough.”
Peterson went further with the topic of looping.
“I think caddying is harder than playing. You can’t do anything about (the result), especially if you’re a decent golfer,” he said. “If you’re a decent player that’s caddying and you see a shot that you like, you try your best to get your player to hit it the way that you see it, and the way you see it is not the way he sees it, so you just keep your mouth shut and hope he hits it good.”
So, what are some key components of caddying that Peterson is getting used to in his two-day prep between Wednesday and Thursday?
“A lot of little things — like keep the towel wet, don’t miss a catch, that’s embarrassing, keep the grooves clean, keep your grips clean, don’t lose things. That’s a bad deal,” Peterson said.
“There’s just a lot of things that go with it that you don’t always think about, at least I didn’t ’t think about it when I was playing. So we’ll see how I do this week. I don’t know. I can’t promise a 10 out of 10 performance at this point (laughs).”
Killeen added “same” when he heard Peterson’s prediction.
Well, whether they play well or not this will be a week where these two friends get a chance to be around the game they love. The two started their Fore the People golf podcast a few months ago and they just had renowned swing coach George Gankas on.
“Man, we have a lot of fun,” Killeen said of their friendship. “Petey is super competitive and so am I. So when we’re out there this week we’re not just going to act like a bunch of idiots. We’re trying to win the tournament. I think he’s played there four times, made the cut every time and played solid. I’m playing pretty well. When you make it through a Monday qualifier it’s not like whatever, you got a spot and you’re shooting a million, obviously the game’s in pretty good shape. When we’re out there we’re going to compete.”
They begin that competition Thursday at 10:26 a.m. local time.
“It’s fun to caddie for him because we’re opposite players,” Peterson said. “He’s got an incredible short game, so he can get it up and down from all over the place, and I could never see those kind of shots when I was playing because I was just panicking when I missed a green. It’s fun to watch him because it’s just not the game I played and I can learn a little bit from it.”