Men's Amateur Golf Championship A Family Affair For ASU Golfer.

Aug. 20, 2001

Story written by Ken Klavon, USGA

Atlanta -- Lobbing harmless digs at his golfing cohorts, David Derminio seemingly smiled his way through Sunday's practice round at East Lake Golf Club.

After all, he had reason to. It's not every year that a father-son tandem qualifies for the U.S. Amateur. In fact, one would have to go back to 1958 when Richard D. Chapman of Osterville, Mass., and 16-year-old son Dixie Chapman competed at The Olympic Club.Before the Chapman's, Emerson Carey, Jr. and Emerson Carey, III, of Denver, emerged at the U.S. Amateur in Minneapolis in 1950.

So here are the Derminios -- proud papa David, 48, and 21-year-old Michael, both from Fallbrook, Calif. -- adding another paragraph to the USGA history book.

Yet, the Derminio's feat is so little known that only one reporter, from San Diego, decided to call them up. In fairness, the Derminios were oblivious, too, other than realizing a dream they had set when Michael was about 14.

'When I was younger, we'd play around and I'd always imagine that we would make the U.S. Amateur together,' said Michael. 'That we'd be in this great duel on one of the last holes in match play.'

His eyes aglow in wonderment, Michael caught himself and looked at dad for confirmation. Both smiled sheepishly. 'Yeah, he sure did,' he said.

What makes their story more intriguing is that they qualified at separate sites after fate intervened. Originally scheduled to play together at SCGA Members' Club in Murrieta, Calif., on Aug. 7, David learned a few weeks prior that another commitment he couldn't get out of would force him to seek qualifying elsewhere. He did so at Bernardo Heights Country Club on July 30.

In a show of support, Michael, who plays at Arizona State, jettisoned Arizona in his car at 6 p.m. on July 29, arrived after midnight in California and then woke up before the crack of dawn to caddie. He carried dad's bag for all 36 holes.

Asked why he felt obliged to do so, Michael said, 'We're each other's best friends.'

David said he knew that he beat the odds by qualifying. Think about it. How many 48 year olds do you see tearing up the amateur scene? David, a financial specialist, had been a walk-on player at Arizona State University in the early '70s and settled into the role of scratch golfer. He appeared in two Mid-Amateurs, in 1995 and '98, never making it past stroke play in '95 and suffering though a hip injury in '98.

All the while, golf was a family staple. So much so that the family of eight has a golf hole in their yard with a green, two bunkers and tees set at 25-, 50-, 75-, 100- and 150-yards.

Michael fell in love with the sport and began challenging dad by 14.

After qualifying first, David's exuberance was quelled. He didn't feel complete. Michael still had to qualify. It wouldn't be easy.

On the final day Michael outlasted Steve Tanis of Riverside, Calif., with a birdie in a one-hole playoff. Of course, dad caddied the last 19 holes -- but not after wrapping up a business meeting and getting to the course just a tad tardy.

For his efforts, dad was relieved of his caddieing. Michael's little brother Stephen, 13, who had been caddieing for dad to that point, switched camps.

'Yeah, when Michael qualified, Stephen dropped me like a hot potato,' said David laughing.

Stephen couldn't pinpoint the reason why he did it, but maybe it was out of sympathy. No one would blame him.

A soon-to-be sophomore, Michael endured two previously undiagnosed spine fractures from weightlifting while preparing for the 2000-01 ASU season. The injury put him in a back brace from April until June. It wasn't welcome news, as if any injury ever is. But Michael had finally felt totally healthy for the first time in a while. That's because on the night of his high school graduation, he tore up his left knee on a trampoline when a friend landed on it. His MCL and meniscus were torn, which resulted in two surgeries and a seat on the sideline his first season.

'It would have been a hollow feeling to come here without him,' said David.

David and Michael have played together in a number of events over the years. In 1998 in Arizona, they won the 1998 Father-Son state championship. They recently played in another Arizona event in which they didn't 'fare well,' said David.

Now that they're here, what now? What happens if, for some odd reason, the moons become aligned and the two faced one another in match play? They know that's like putting the cart before the horse, but it's fun to dream.

Fearful of announcing full allegiance to either one of them, Stephen gracefully took the smart route, saying he'd root for both. Michael added he'd 'approach it the same way I would any other competitor.' Dad, however, gleamed as he had been doing all day.

'Just knowing how difficult it is to qualify for the U.S. Amateur to begin with,' said David, who is a USGA Junior Amateur Committee board member, 'being here playing with Mike again and knowing how much golf has meant to us as a family, it's awesome. That would be sweet.'

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