He’s just never tried to qualify for one of the United States Golf Association’s biggest events on his home course before – until today.
Stevens will join 108 other hopefuls at Brookstone Golf and Country Club in Acworth for 18 holes this morning in an effort to qualify for next month’s U.S. Senior Open in Edmond, Oklahoma. Because of his previous success qualifying for majors, and the fact he knows this course so well, the 52-year old teaching pro is considered one of the favorites to claim one of the three available spots in the Open, or one of the two alternates. And he says he feels a little extra pressure.
“Yes, I do,” Stevens said. “The members have given me some extra encouragement and I’m going to go out and enjoy myself.
“I think (a qualifying score) is going to be in the 60s, but I don’t think anybody is going to go really deep.”
Of course, it wouldn’t hurt if Stevens matched his best score around the 6,802-yard, par 72 layout — a 62 — because the field is stacked with a number of quality players.
Head professional Matt Harvey said he believes it is the first USGA event to be held at Brookstone, and it will be the first Senior Open qualifier to be played in Cobb County in at least 15 years.
Joining Stevens in the field will be former PGA Tour and Champions Tour player Dewitt Weaver, Marietta’s Blair Lacy, who qualified for the 2007 U.S. Senior Open, 2011 U.S. Amateur qualifier Scott Davenport and 2013 U.S. Senior Open qualifier, and two-time U.S. Amateur qualifier, Jeff Belk.
One player that was expected to be in the field was Pinetree Country Club head professional Rob Williams, but he said he suffered a back injury last week. After trying to practice Sunday, he said he was likely to withdraw from the event.
Stevens will be trying to advance to his seventh major championship. He has played in three PGA championships, including the 2001 and 2011 tournaments held in Atlanta. Stevens has played in two of the last three Senior PGA championships – including a finish in a tie for 64th last month, and last year’s Senior Open where he missed the cut by three shots.
Stevens said knowing the course the way he does will be an advantage that he expects to use.
“With all the rain we’ve had they have not been able to cut the rough,” he said. “Right now, It’s about 3 ½ inches high. But the greens are going to be where it’s going to happen. With the undulations. I expect them to roll at 11 or 11 ½ (on the stimpmeter).”
Another trip to the Senior Open might also help Stevens push closer to another goal – playing on the Champions Tour. Last year, he finished in the top 30 of the Tour’s qualifying school, which allows him to Monday qualify for events this season. Right now, he said, he is leaning at taking another shot at earning his card. But right now he has one thing on his mind – shooting a low score today.
“I have all the confidence in the world right now,” he said. “I think if I can go out and shoot 67 or 68, if I do that, I’ll have a good chance at qualifying, because it’s going to be a little soft.”