AKRON, Ohio – Thanks to the intervention of a veteran volunteer, 11-year-old Nathan Higgs got the autograph everyone wanted Wednesday at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.
First, though, the sixth-grader from Toronto was reduced to tears after being pushed down in a scrum around Masters and U.S. Open champion Jordan Spieth.
On vacation and making their first visit to Firestone Country Club, Leslie and Richard Higgs brought their three sons – Matthew (16), Jeff (14) and Nathan – who hung out between the caddie shack and putting green. In most cases, Leslie and Richard stood behind Nathan because of the crush of adults also hoping to have items signed by the world's top players.
Spieth's impending arrival was tipped off when his caddie, Michael Greller, arrived at the shack. When Spieth came out, Nathan was in front, with no parental backup.
Leslie Higgs said Nathan got pushed forward and went down. Not only was he hurt, with a visible scrape on his nose, but he came away with nothing.
"I saw the adults pushing from behind," Richard Higgs said. "When the bigger players come we know what it's like, the little kids are standing in front and the adults lean over and get their things over the kids." Richard Higgs said one of his sons had a rubber ball he wanted signed by Rickie Fowler knocked out of his hand by an adult.
Mark Derrig, vice chairman of operations, happened to be in the area and heard what happened to Nathan. An Akron resident, Derrig has also worked in range security during his 10 years as a volunteer. He told Greller, and Greller lifted Nathan over the fence and led him up to Spieth on the range so he could get his pin flag signed.
Afterward, Derrig hoisted Nathan back over the fence and told him how crazy things used to be when Tiger Woods was in his prime.
"I think he's still a little bit upset," Leslie Higgs said of the incident.
Despite what happened, the Higgs plan to attend Thursday's first round. They always include a golf tournament during their vacation. Richard Higgs, an avid golfer, said he played Bethpage Black last week.
This article was written by Marla Ridenour from The Akron Beacon Journal and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.