Minnesota Golf Association

Late Birdies Send Berry to First U.S. Senior Open

May 30, 2019

 
By Nick Hunter
nick@mngolf.org
 
 
  WOODBURY, Minn. – When it comes to accolades and prominent golf tournaments, there isn’t much Edinburgh USA professional Don Berry hasn’t played in or won. But a round of 2-under par 70 Thursday at Prestwick Golf Club offered the 57-year-old Minnesota Golf Hall of Famer yet another first of his career—an invitation to the U.S. Senior Open.
 
“I’ve played in a lot of Senior PGA and PGA Championships, but never a U.S. Senior Open, so I’m excited and really looking forward to it,” Berry said. “Now I have a really big tournament to look forward to and I can’t wait to play in it.”
 
Berry hasn’t played in a USGA event since the 1992 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach where he missed the cut after shooting rounds of 78 and 77, respectively. Tom Kite collected his only major victory when fired a final-round 72 to edge Jeff Sluman by two strokes, shooting 3-under 285.
 
From a field of 36 players Wednesday, Berry grabbed the lone qualifying position to the national championship, which will be played June 27-30 at Warren Golf Course on the campus of the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Ind.
 
Despite rolling in his birdie look on the opening hole, Berry had a rocky start to the round Wednesday, carding bogey on three of his next four holes to drop to 2-over for the day.
 
“I got off to a bad start—I birdied one and thought I’ve got something, but just made some bad shots and didn’t play very well on the front nine,” he said.
 
He limited the damage by nearly holing his tee shot at the 175-yard sixth hole, leaving himself with a tap-in from six inches to get back to 1-over.
 
Walking to the tenth tee Berry said his goal was to shoot 3-under or better over his final nine to get back into contention, but with missed opportunities over the first three holes to start the back nine, Berry’s chances were fading.
 
Rolling in a 17-footer at the 13th, Berry began to build momentum and answered by trickling in his bride chance from 25 feet on the ensuing hole to move into red figures for the first time with five holes remaining.
 
Sticking his approach inside of five feet at the par-5 16th, Berry sank his third birdie on the back nine and would card par on the remaining two holes to earn medalist honors at 2-under 70, one shot clear of the threesome of Chad Proehl, J.T. Johnson and Troy Arends.  
 
“I feel like my chipping and putting has been good and I always think if my weakness is my ball striking, then I’m in good shape, because I usually hit the ball pretty well and thought that would come back at some point,” Berry said. “I was thinking if I chip and putt better, then one of these days the swing will start to feel a little better.”
 
Playing on the big stage at dozens of national events for over the past 30 years, Berry has learned to keep his expectations in check.
 
“I always just want to play well. I don’t go into it thinking that my goal is to make the cut, because what if you’re 5-under after two days? My goal is to play well and if I play great and miss the cut by one, I’m happy as can be. And if I play great and finish fourth, that’d be fantastic, too.”
 
Proehl, from Urbandale, Iowa, and Johnson, originally from Sparta, Wis., finished as first and second alternates, respectively.
 
Built in 1999 and designed by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw, the Warren Course plays as a par 70 at nearly 7,000 yards. It hosts the U.S. Senior Open for the first time and this year’s championship is the 16th USGA event to be played on a collegiate golf course. The course hosted the 2010 U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links as well as several NCAA events.
 
David Toms’ round of 70 earned him a victory at last year’s U.S. Senior Open at The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs, Colo., fending off Miguel Angel Jimenez, Tim Petrovic and Jerry Kelly by one stroke.

 


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