There are few who have met him who would wish Victoria’s Jim Rutledge anything but the best and the reason for that can be summed up by his response to a question from Lorne Rubenstein from the Globe and Mail on Thursday at RattleSnake Point in Milton, Ont.
The possibility of one more kick at the upcoming RBC Canadian Open was presented to Rutledge, who was hotter than the weather at his first Mr. Lube – Canadian PGA Seniors’ Championship, an event that saw him shoot a course record 62 on Wednesday.
Rutledge finished in convincing style with a record 17-under score and, as tempting as it may have been to play one more Canadian Open, Rutledge was having none of it, citing the number of promising Canadians who are out there these days.
“I don’t think so. I hope all the young guys get in because they need that experience. I know (Open tournament director Bill Paul) has got a tough job ahead of him because I think he’s got a whole handful this year to figure out,” said Rutledge, adding one caveat with a smile.
“In hindsight, if it comes down to the last minute and you need somebody, call and I’ll try to get there,” said Rutledge, who became the second-oldest rookie in PGA Tour history three years ago when he made it at the age of 47.
A classy answer on a topic such as a Canadian Open exemption is something we’ve come to expect from Rutledge over the years. Nothing much changes with him, a point that he touched on while discussing his current focus, the Champions Tour, where he has conditional status.
“I’ve just been chasing tournaments all year long and it’s working alright. I don’t mind flying by the seat of my pants. I’ve done it all my life and this is just another stage of it. I’m chasing this tour now,” said Rutledge. “My wife (Jill) and I have been enjoying it together. She’s been caddying, so we’ve been having fun.”
Rutledge came to RattleSnake Point after tying for 38th at the inaugural Montreal Championship, where unlike this week, he got off to a slow, but not a bad start, which he said is the beginning of trouble the way the senior circuit is these days. He tied for 38th in Montreal.
“Montreal wasn’t a great week, but I still felt that I played fine. Out there, you can’t play catch-up by any means. You shoot even par the first day and the rest of the guys shoot six or seven-under. You can’t catch up, especially in three days,” said Rutledge, who reversed form at the CPGA Senior.
“I came in in a good frame of mind. It’s my first year of playing in this tournament and I wanted to take it,” said Rutledge, who will continue his tradition of playing in as many events as possible on the Canadian Tour, where he played regularly for years. Next week, he’ll played in the Players Cup in Winnipeg.
Then, it’s home to Victoria to prepare for the U.S. Senior Open down the coast at the Sahalee Country Club in Seattle the week after the Canadian Open at St. George’s Golf and Country Club. Rutledge is a first alternate and chances are good that he may make it with a retooled swing.
“I’m trying to keep my swing shorter. Therefore, I’m starting to drive it straighter and I’ve been hitting my irons a lot more solid without losing any distance because I’ve just been concentrating on accelerating through the ball,” he said.
“I’ve been making good contact and putting has been pretty good – (Wednesday) was extremely good. (Thursday), I hit some good putts that just caught the lips,” he said.
If the CPGA Senior is any indication, there will be more successes down the line much to the delight of those who have followed his career over the years.