PGA Professional Doug Rohrbaugh fighting long Champions Tour odds

Doug Rohrbaugh
The PGA of America
PGA Professional Doug Rohrbaugh hopes a good ifnish this week in Georgia could lead to a berth in the upcoming Senior PGA Championship.
Doug Roberson
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Series: Champions Tour

Published: Thursday, April 16, 2015 | 1:43 p.m.
There are rookies on the Champions Tour, this week stopping for the Greater Gwinnett Championship, who are rookies only because they are 50 years old. Melting a cake with all those candles marks the youngest a person can be to compete on golf's senior circuit after years spent in the pressure grinder of the PGA Tour.
And there is a rookie who is making his debut as a "touring" pro this week at TPC Sugarloaf.
Meet Doug Rohrbaugh, a PGA Professional at Ironbridge Golf Club in Colorado, who was the 12th and last man to qualify in the Champions Tour Q-School, which gave him conditional status this year.
Finishing 12th is kind of golf's version of a waiting room. Should 12 guys drop out of a tournament, Rorhbaugh will get the call.
His cellphone hasn't lit up.
But finishing 12th does come with an automatic spot in each tournament's Monday qualifier.
Rohrbaugh was one of four who passed the qualifier at Chateau Elan to make the short drive down I-85 to Sugarloaf. His name may not be known, but his goal is the same as that of defending champ Miguel Angel Jimenez or Bernhard Langer.
"I remember when Tiger played his first event, he was asked what do you expect: 'I'm here to win,'" Rohrbaugh said. "You are here to try to win. I don't know what more you say."
Rohrbaugh isn't the only rookie in this week's tournament, but he is the most unique. He will be joined by Grant Waite, who once shot 60 in a round on the PGA Tour; Nolan Henke, a three-time PGA Tour winner; Jesper Parnevik, a five-time PGA Tour winner; Jerry Smith, who amassed almost $2 million in his career on the PGA Tour; and Frank Esposito, who won the 2014 Senior PGA Professional National Championship and the 2014 National Qualifying Tournament in back-to-back weeks.
Rohrbaugh hasn't had the same type of accomplishments as the other rookies, but he is a winner.
He could be considered the Tiger Woods of golf in Colorado, where he has won 15 PGA of America events. Those are different than PGA Tour events, where everything is televised, courtesy cars are the norm and a gaggle of media want to know if you used a 6- or a 7-iron on the third shot on the seventh hole.
But Rohrbaugh reasons golf is golf.
"I've been playing golf for so long; I've competed for so long," he said.
And, though he has failed to make the cut in three majors on the Champions Tour, he knows how to handle pressure.
Making it into the Greater Gwinnett was his last chance to earn enough money to qualify for the upcoming Senior PGA Championship, which will be held at the Pete Dye Course in French Link, Ind., on May 21-24.
"I really needed to play well," he said.
With braces on his teeth and a lean body, he doesn't look like he should be in the senior set. The only giveaway is when he removes his hat and the hairline is post-Jordan Spieth.
He doesn't sound like a rookie, either. He speaks with confidence and a consistent laugh. But he also is realistic. Though he said he wants to win, he knows that if he finishes 10th or better in Gwinnett he likely will receive an invitation to the next full stop, in Des Moines, Iowa, in June.
So Rohrbaugh has to handle the balance between knowing he must be aggressive in his limited opportunities with the patience needed to know when there are birdie opportunities and when par is a good score, something he said he is prepared for on a course that likely will play long because of recent rains.
If he does well enough this week, one Champions Tour event could become two.
Not bad for a rookie.
"The thing that makes me a rookie is because it's this tour and I haven't been on it," he said.
This article was written by Doug Roberson from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.