After winning a playoff to become an alternate to play in the 2009 U.S. Senior Open John Rushnell of the Black Diamond Golf Club in Peterborough, Ont., crossed his fingers and hoped he would get the call to play.
That call came on Wednesday from the United States Golf Association, informing Rushnell that he would be joining fellow Canadian PGA professional Gar Hamilton of the Mississaugua Golf and Country Club in Mississauga, Ont., at the U.S. Senior Open in two weeks.
“I have been waiting by my phone since the qualifier and now I feel like a kid in a candy store,” said Rushnell. “My first call was to my wife (Kim) and she screamed she was so happy.”
Rushnell played his qualifier at Fox Chapel Golf Club just outside of Pittsburgh, where the Oshawa native shot a round of even par 70 in late June. USGA officials informed him that an alternate usually gets in from Fox Chapel.
“I think it has to do with the quality of the field and possibly the rating of the golf course in terms of difficulty,” explained Rushnell. “I don’t know for sure how I was selected, but in the end, it doesn’t really matter – I’m in the Open.
“Physically my game is there, but mentally I will be working on my pre shot routine and really concentrating on all my shots,” said Rushnell, who won last week’s Ontario PGA Senior Summer Championship.
“My game this year has been great and I am playing for the sheer enjoyment of the game rather than score, money etc.”
Rushnell is a retired GM worker who began a second career as a golf professional in 1997. Working nights at GM and days at Oliver’s Nest Golf Club, Rushnell moved quickly through the Canadian PGA ELITE Apprentice program to obtain Class A status in 2002.
“I began playing golf when I was 28 years old and absolutely fell in love with the game,” said Rushnell, now 54.
“I really started playing well when I was 40 and had aspirations of playing professionally as a senior,” added Rushnell, who narrowly missed a European Senior Tour card in 2003.
“I would still be chasing the dream, but it comes down to economics and I just can’t justify it,” he said.