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BMW Championship expected to raise up to $4.5 million for Evans Scholarships

Caddy’s hard work paying off with opportunity of a lifetime
Caddy’s hard work paying off with opportunity of a lifetime 03:36

OLYMPIA FIELDS, Ill. (CBS) -- Professional golfers from around the world have been gearing up for the BMW Championship, which is set to tee off on Thursday at Olympia Fields Country Club in the south suburbs.

It's not just the penultimate FedEx Cup playoff event on the PGA Tour, but a major fundraiser for the Evans Scholars Program to provide college tuition to caddies.

Oh, the places a golf ball can go; sometimes over the river and through the woods. Eduardo Gonzalez Jr., a caddie and Evans Scholar, admitted he found the ball-finding gig boring when he first started at age 13.

"I would get home, and then I would complain to my dad how I hated the job," he said.

"I'm saying, 'Son, everything in this life is hard, but I think you can do it,'" said his father, Eduardo Sr.

Dad knew better, because he's the maintenance supervisor at Olympia Fields Country Club. He has watched golf open up opportunities to make lots of green.

"I'm working in this country for 28 years, and I'm looking at every caddie, and I'm imagining the future for my son," he said.

Caddies might clock hours lugging around clubs every day at work, but that time is spent networking.

"I caddie for accountants, doctors. There's no other job that you get to meet these people," he said.

Eduardo Jr. is glad he stuck with it, because caddying led to a once-in-a-lifetime shot.  

"I saw people filling out this paper in the tables inside the caddie shack. I was curious, and I was asking what is this paper?" he said.

It was the application for an Evans Scholarship, a full ride to college for caddies.

Eduardo Jr. thought of his family. An Evans Scholarship meant financial freedom and more. 

"Nobody else has seen anybody go to college, so me going to college will really create a path for my siblings," he said.

After making it past the application, then the interview round, the future first-generation college student received the news. He'll attend the University of Illinois as an official Evans Scholar. 

"My stomach literally dropped. I was lost to words," he said.

The BMW Championship is the biggest fundraising event for the Evans Scholars Program. Spectators help pay for college tuition through ticket, food, and drink sales.

About 100,000 people and their wallets are expected in Olympia Fields over the weekend.

"This year, we anticipate another $4 to 4.5 million to go into the expense line for Evans Scholars Foundation," said tournament chairman Mike Bruni. "Just from this championship. That's why everybody who attends is participating in some way."

Bruni said Evans Scholarships cover tuition and room and board for four years of college; an estimated $125,000 to $200,000 per student, with 325 scholarship winners this year alone.

"Everybody that attends the BMW Championship – whether you're a volunteer, or a spectator, or a hospitality buyer – all have the opportunity to help change a life like Eduardo's," Bruni said.

"Winning it was like winning the lottery. It was truly amazing," Eduardo Jr. said.

Tickets are still available for the BMW Championship through TicketMaster. Practice rounds begin Tuesday. The tournament runs Thursday through Sunday, and you can watch the final two rounds on CBS 2.

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