The Washington Times - June 17, 2011, 03:40PM

Eric MacCluen couldn’t help himself. The coach tried to keep his face impassive at the U.S. Open Thursday. But the calm lifted each time his student of 20 years, Michael Tobiason, put club on ball.

“C’mon, drop!” MacCluen blurted, as Tobiason rolled a putt on No. 9.

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A few minutes later he said, “I can’t help it if sometimes that happens.”

Profiled in The Washington Times about his circtuitous path to the U.S. Open after his father’s death, Tobiason’s story has transformed him to a celebrity of sorts at Congressional. And the only coach he’s had struggles to believe what’s happened.

“This is just insane,” said MacCluen, the director of instruction at Applecross Country Club in Downingtown, Pa., where Tobiason also works. “He’s cut out for this.”

And MacCluen has a plan for the lone Open qualifer he’s coached. You can’t tell if MacCluen is joking or not.

“I’m going to fire him for good play,” MacCluen said.

MacCluen believes in Tobiason, believes he can make a career of professonal golf if he invests more time in the game. The poise Tobiason displayed Thursday, where stayed even par through the first five holes, reinforced that. Even though Tobaison shot a four-over-par 75 (he teed off today at 2:52 p.m.), MacCluen was optimistic.

“If he keeps looking like this,” MacCluen said, “he’ll be around.”