NEWS

PGA pro John Pillar, Sr. getting a second shot at Senior US Open

By Marty Myers
Published on

Most golfers don't get a mulligan.

But 20 years after he played in the United States Open at Congressional Country Club, John Pillar Sr. is getting another shot.

RELATED: Follow the US Open from Erin Hills

This time, the director of golf at the Country Club at Woodloch Springs, who turned 50 this year, will play in the Senior U.S. Open, June 29-July 2 at Salem Country Club in Peabody, Mass.

"It's going to be a blast," said Pillar, who missed the cut in 1997 by five shots. "I'm looking forward to having the whole family there. They've been around some events I've played, but that's what I'm most looking forward to about the experience.

"I think I'll appreciate it much more this time. Twenty years ago, John (Jr.) was in a stroller, we were pushing him around and then we had his Christening, and in the blink of an eye, it was over. I said, 'I wish I had done this or that.' I'm going to enjoy this experience."

The call to play came Monday while he was on the range during the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders golf outing at Woodloch.

"I answered the phone and a woman said she was with the United States Golf Association and asked me if I would like to play in the United States Senior Open," Pillar said. "I just had weird feeling that was going to happen."

Pillar was the first alternate in qualifying May 24 at Indiana (Pa.) Country Club, and was told the alternate from that site made the field four of the past five years.

It's now five of six.

Pillar was second overall -- only the top qualifier went -- and he missed being the medalist by one stroke, less than two weeks after shooting the low score at local U.S. Open qualifying at the Country Club of Scranton.

"I wanted to try to get medalist in both, but I had a weird feeling about it," Pillar said. "And getting the call the other day, it was great."

It sets up a whirlwind two weeks for Pillar, whose son, Kyle, graduates from Wallenpaupack Area High School on Friday evening.

After graduation, Pillar and his youngest son, Alex, will fly to Oregon at the crack of dawn Saturday to play in the Senior PGA Club Pro championship, where the top 20 finishers will be invited to play in the Senior PGA.

"I'm kind of doing the Phil (Mickelson) thing, except I don't have a private plane," Pillar joked.

A six-hour flight, a three-hour drive to follow and four rounds of golf will be followed by a red-eye flight home before Pillar packs up the family for a trip 20 years in the making.

"You learn to appreciate it and I wanted to get into another major, whether it was the PGA or another Open," Pillar said. "This is what makes the game so great. It's a lifelong pursuit of the golf swing. It's humbling at many times and sometimes the opportunities arise and other times they don't.

"The Woodloch families have been great in supporting me, and I love representing this area. I've been very fortunate."

This article is written by Marty Myers from The Times-Tribune, Scranton, Pa. and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.