By the time most of you are reading this, Ray Stewart of Abbotsford, B.C., will have crossed the Atlantic to the United Kingdom after clinching the 2009 Canadian PGA Seniors’ Championship at The Marshes Golf Club near Ottawa on Saturday.
Stewart, 55, will spend a week at Celtic Manor in Wales, before heading to Mill Ride Golf Club near Sunningdale to try and Monday qualify for the British Senior Open, which will coincide with the RBC Canadian Open next week.
The final round of the Canadian seniors championship was delayed a couple of times by storms on the weekend and one might think it may have been a good tune-up for the weather that may await Stewart in England, but he actually stayed dry before winning by two shots.
“We had a long wait. I was one of the lucky guys teeing off at the end. I didn’t have to go out and practice and get pulled off or go out there and play and get pulled out,” said Stewart.
“We just sat around and chatted. I had lots of friends there, so it was alright,” he said, adding that he has enough experience with rain to last a lifetime.
“I’m from B.C. I get lots of rain,” he said. “I’ve played lots of golf overseas in Scotland, Ireland. I’m used to the weather. I don’t mind it at all.
“I love playing golf over (in the U.K.) and it’s tough to qualify. There’s about nine spots and 100 guys teeing it up, but it’s worth it,” said Stewart, who has been uncharacteristically quiet on the golf course the past year or so.
The eight-year PGA Tour player and member of the 1994 Dunhill Cup championship team that also included Dave Barr and Rick Gibson has been suffering from adhesive capsulitis, or frozen shoulder.
It’s a disorder in which the shoulder capsule and surrounding tissue becomes inflamed and stiff and grows together with abnormal bands of tissue to restrict motion and cause pain.
“I had surgery and everything else, but it didn’t seem to help, so it’s just a condition that just sort of goes away by itself,” said Stewart, who reports things are beginning to turn around.
“It’s okay,” he said. “(His swing’s) not going all the way back, but it’s good enough to go play golf. Hopefully, the next six months will bring full recovery and I’ll be back in full action and ready for the (Champions Tour) school in the fall.”
So, winning in Ottawa on the weekend was indeed a positive sign after Stewart missed a couple of cuts in Canadian Tour events played in B.C. earlier this year.
“I just need to get going again,” he said. “I was hitting the ball real solid (in Ottawa). I hit all the fairways and greens. It’s a nice way to play the game. It’s nice to see the game coming back. It might just go away again. Who knows?”
To avoid that happening, Stewart will continue to work on his game and play a bit of competitive golf once he returns to B.C., but he plans to spend a lot of time with his family before making his way to Q-School.
“I’ve traveled for 30 years, so it’s nice to hang out at home. I’m not sure my wife would totally agree with that,” he said with a chuckle.