Notebook: Of Radar, Roberts and a brand-new senior
Mike Reid hasn't exactly enjoyed a storybook career, but his victory last year at Laurel Valley didn't come as a surprise to him. Plus, Loren Roberts appreciates the role PGA Professionals play, and Kirk Hanefeld just slips in under the wire.
By T.J. Auclair, Junior Editor
EDMOND, Okla. -- It hasn't exactly been a storybook career for Mike Reid.
He didn't redefine the game of golf like Jack Nicklaus on the PGA Tour, but who did?
Since turning 50 in 2004, Reid hasn't ripped up the Champions Tour like Hale Irwin, but who has?
But unlike Nicklaus and Irwin, Reid is at Oak Tree Golf Club for the 67th Senior PGA Championship as the defending champion. With a birdie on the first playoff hole at Laurel Valley last May, Reid edged out Jerry Pate and Dana Quigley. That counts for something. And, it means a lot to the man nicknamed "Radar" for his accuracy off the tee, which could certainly come in handy in his title defense.
"I think that any time you win it's pretty special, but to tee up on the 18th hole with such a slim hope and 30 minutes later be holding a trophy, it's just an extraordinary experience and something that when I look back on it, it's like watching a movie you have seen 10 times and yet you watch it again just to see if it ends the same way," said Reid, who before hoisting the hardware at the 2005 Senior PGA hadn't won since 1988 in the second of his two PGA Tour wins. "And that's the way that tournament has been in my memory ? it's pretty special."
Reid's first major championship didn't just surprise him. He estimates he had about 40 messages on his cell phone. Aside from, "congratulations," what were they saying?
"One out of every five calls would start out with the words, 'Boy, I thought you were on your way to another good finish and so I turned the TV off and went and started the barbecue, came back, turned on the 10 o'clock news and found out you won,' " Reid joked. "And that was a common theme. And I answered those messages and I said, 'I would have done the same thing.' "
A Pros-Pro: When top-level golfers say they've never had a lesson in their lives, well, that just doesn't fly with the Champions Tour current money-leader Loren Roberts.
"I don't want to say it bothers me -- but every time I see somebody say, you know, 'I never had a lesson in golf,' that bothers me, because generally there is some PGA Professional somewhere that told the guy, you know, 'you got to lay your left hand off more at the top,' or something, gave them a little tip somewhere to play," Roberts said. "Nobody ever learns this game completely by himself. I mean, it doesn't happen. When you work in an assistant's job or you work a head job, it's a 60-hour-a-week job, minimum."
Roberts would know, too. Before finding his success on the PGA and Champions Tour, he was a PGA Professional, learning how to operate and manage a golf shop, while giving lessons and keeping members happy.
"I just appreciate the time that the guys put in," he said. "That's where golf meets the general public. And I did work at a public facility for a year in 1982. And we did 300 rounds a day, 365 days a year, and that gave me a real appreciation to go out there and hit a lot of golf balls so I didn't have to come back."
Luckily for Roberts, he hasn't had to go back.
Birthday Boy: Kirk Hanefield, one of New England's leading club professionals for 25 years, turned 50 today. That makes him the youngest player in the field at the 67th Senior PGA Championship and eligible by about 24 hours.
"Since I have my card this is the first week that I'm eligible to play, since I turned 50 today," Hanefield said. "I'm excited about starting and getting going."
50/50 About Turning 50: It's a big joke that should be taken at least half-serious on the PGA Tour, when players in their 40s joke that they're just trying to hang on to turn 50 years old. Of course, 50 is the age that makes them eligible for the senior circuit, which in turn revitalizes some careers.
Take for example, Bruce Fleisher. Fleisher won one time in a long career on the PGA Tour, but since turning 50 in 1999, he has tasted sweet victory 18 times.
For every 10 or so Bruce Fleisher stories, you come across a man like Jay Haas. Unlike those guys hanging on to turn 50, the age just seemed to happen to Haas, who was playing the best golf of his life on the PGA Tour from age 48-50.
That put Haas, one of the favorites this week at the 67th Senior PGA Championship at Oak Tree, in a quandary most golfers dream of -- continue to be competitive and make loads of money on the PGA Tour, or go be dominant and make loads of money on the Champions Tour?
"I guess I didn't know how I was supposed to feel or how I should feel going into 50 and at 45 or 46 I played some of my worst golf ever," Haas admitted. "So to play really well at 48, 49, 50, was, I didn't see that coming, I suppose. I didn't think I should play as poorly at 45, but I wasn't sure I should play as well as I did at 50. So it was just hard to let go. That's all I ever knew [the PGA Tour]. That competition, those courses and those guys that I was competing against. That was what I had known. And so it was just hard to turn my back on it."
At 52, Haas has four wins on the Champions Tour including back-to-back wins in the last month. He still spends a little bit of time on the PGA Tour, but mostly to play in events his son, Bill, who made it through Qualifying School, is playing in.