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Short Shifts

Mark Stone gets in workout as caddie

Carrying bag for golfer Matt Hill in National Capital Open to Support Our Troops

by Chris Stevenson / Correspondent

OTTAWA -- Ottawa Senators forward Mark Stone is working on his heavy lifting this summer.

For the second time he's caddying for professional golfer Matt Hill, this time at the Mackenzie Tour - PGA Tour of Canada's National Capital Open to Support Our Troops, at Hylands Golf Club.

"He's the most famous player on the course," said Hill, a native of Sarnia, Ontario.

The Mackenzie Tour - PGA Tour Canada is a developmental tour, with the top five players on the money list at the end of the season advancing to the Tour, one level below the PGA Tour.

This is the second straight year Stone has caddied for Hill. The relationship began last year, when Stone approached Hill about caddying for him. Stone, an avid golfer who can shoot in the 70s, wanted the opportunity to get a close look at the pros at work.

Hill, 27, was the NCAA Division I champion in 2009 at North Carolina State University and turned pro in 2010. He joined the Mackenzie Tour - PGA Tour Canada in 2012 and has one win.

Stone, 24, was the runner-up for the Calder Trophy as the League's top rookie in 2015 and has had back-to-back seasons of 20-plus goals for the Senators.

"We stayed in touch all year and became pretty good buddies," Hill said. "It's nice to have him on the bag again this week. It's been good."

Hill shot even-par 71 in his opening round Thursday and was tied for 98th place. He was 82nd on the money list going into the tournament.

Stone and Hill had played golf in Florida during a Senators road trip last season. Hill said he gives Stone "four or five shots a side," and that day Stone said he played pretty well with a 77; Hill shot a 67.

The to-do list for Stone this week is pretty short. Hill reads his own putts and does his own yardages.

"I was nervous last year, but it's not really that hard," Stone said. "I don't have to read any putts for him. I just kind of carry the bag and take the flag out. It's fun. It's something different for me.

"I'm not really good enough to help him, really, with anything."

Hill said that isn't completely true. He said Stone helps him relax during the round by chatting about anything but golf.

During their round Thursday, the main topic was cars.

"Cars. Traveling. Nothing crazy," Hill said. "Didn't really talk about golf much, which was kind of nice. Or hockey.

"It's just nice to be comfortable with your caddie. That's kind of the main thing. Just keep you loose and have a good time. That's kind of the main thing out here right now. He's pretty good. We get out there and he kept me relaxed. It was fun."

Stone said he couldn't put his finger on why the two have hit it off.

"I don't know," he said. "We're both pretty relaxed guys. Both competitive. We just enjoy being out there."

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