Listen to this article

VICTOR SMITH enjoyed his week with the rich and famous (golfers) at the U.S. Open.

Thanks to his grandfather's ongoing volunteer role in Pebble Beach, Calif., the Champaign Central High School sophomore was invited to serve as a standard bearer at golf's second major. He left the West Coast with a booty of memorabilia — autographed golf balls, gloves and pins — and a better understanding of how the pros operate.

"Their sense of ease and comfort was inspiring," said Victor, involved in archery, cross country and golf at Central. "You don't have to take everything so seriously. Just have fun."

Grandpa DANIEL SMITH, who has been helping out at Pebble Beach since the 1970s, joined Victor at last week's tournament. Victor toted leader boards — flawlessly, I'd like to add — showing a player's score in relation to par. Nervous at first — and sore afterward — he had a blast during a seven-day run that included practice rounds and the real stuff (his parents saw him on TV standing next to RICKIE FOWLER).

He was to return to Champaign today.

"A memorable experience," the 15-year-old said. "Definitely not for the faint of heart."

Vice President of News

Jim Rossow is vice president of news at The News-Gazette. His email is