Eger, Hogberg qualify for U.S. Senior Open
Having had enough of the heat, Champions Tour regular David Eger didn’t wait around very long.
Mikael Hogberg, who once played on the European Tour, and Champions Tour member John Inman stayed around longer than they intended.
Garland Yates remained as long as he could.
The four were among the 75 or so pro and amateurs from near and far and of varying abilities who descended on High Point Country Club’s Willow Creek course Tuesday vying for two spots in next month’s U.S. Senior Open in Omaha,
Some carried their own clubs. Some had caddies who carried the clubs. Some had caddies who drove carts that carried the clubs.
Eger and Inman were trying to make sure they didn’t miss a tournament. Hogberg, a consultant for Volvo Construction who lives in Greensboro and may take a second shot at earning his Champions Tour playing card this winter, was trying to run his streak of qualifying for the Senior Open to three straight years.
Not surprisingly, Charlotte resident Eger, who is 34th on the Champions Tour money list, shot the lowest score, a fine 5-under-par 67 that included six birdies and a bogey.
“That was my target,” Eger said soon after completing his round. “I wished I could have done better. You always want to hit your target, so maybe I should have set my goal lower.”
He also showed no interest in waiting to see if he stayed at the top of the scoreboard as he thought about leaving tomorrow for Pittsburgh to play in the the Senior Players tournament.
“I’m not waiting around,” Eger said. “I’m hot and tired and I’ve got to go to Pittsburgh in the morning.”
Not surprisingly, Hogberg and Inman tied for second, a stroke behind Eger. Hogberg then punched his ticket by winning a playoff on the third extra hole, tapping in for par on No. 2 and watching Inman’s par attempt lip out.
Hogberg was the more consistent of the two, hitting his approach shots to within 15 feet of the cup and made tap-in pars on all three holes of the playoff — which started on No. 9 and continued on Nos. 1 and 2. Inman, on the other hand, missed the green with his approach shots on all three holes. But, he made par putts from 6-8 feet on the first two holes.
“I was just patient,” Hogberg said. “I was in a playoff when I made the Senior Open in 2011 and I was in playoff that year to make he final stage of Champions Tour qualifying. I was confident, I was playing well and I was patient and didn’t make a lot of noise. I thought I was going to win on the first playoff hole but John made a great putt. But when you start leaving yourself putts of 3, 4 and 5 feet for par, you are eventually going to miss.”
Inman’s inaccuracy with his approach irons finally caught up with him when he went left of the green on the third hold.
“The putt (in the playoff) didn’t break quite as much as I thought it would but that’s the way my luck is going now,” Inman said “But I shouldn’t have missed to the right. ... But you don’t want to be scrambling. You want to put the pressure on the other guy.”
The lip out was doubly disappointing for Inman since he wound up in the playoff when he three-putted for bogey from 20-feet on 18. He had a four-footer for par to go into the clubhouse tied with Eger but ran it past.
“That was just a bad play,” Inman said.
Yates, one of the area’s top amateurs, was among those who played hoping they could somehow put together a round that would get then in the biggest senior tournament of the year.
“When you are 60 years old, you don’t know when you might get another chance,” Yates said.
Willow Creek head professional Jim Brotherton and Mike Bivins of High Point were among other locals who took a shot.
Brotherton shot 5-over 77, one shot better than Bivins. Brotherton didn’t make a birdie, having one attempt lip out on No. 16, and said he put one shot in a cedar tree on No. 6.
“I shot about what I thought I would,” Brotherton said. “I just wasn’t tournament ready.”
Yates didn’t finish. The combination of the oppressive heat and walking on a leg that was badly injured in an automobile accident a few years ago made him wave the white flag after 14 holes. But, he stayed with his group until the end.
Yates said one of the reasons that he played was that he tries to walk one 18-hole round a year.
I thought I would be able to make it. I walk my two big dogs at night to stay active. Walking 18 holes for me is my mountain to climb. I just didn’t now it would be this hot.”
But, there was another reason that he stayed around to the end.
“You’re only going to be here so long, and my little dog passed away on Saturday so I’ve been trying to stay busy,” Yates said as his voice became emotional. “I’ve been trying to get out of the house, trying to get my mind off of it.”
That might have been the best reason that anyone came to Willow Creek on Tuesday.