ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — He’s realistic about his chances of victory, but at the same time Farmington’s Jeff Roth knows he has a few advantages heading to the U.S. Senior Open in Michigan.
Like playing on a course he’s played “50 to 75 times in my life.”
“It’s a home game for me,” the longtime Michigan golf pro says of playing at the Indianwood Country Club, just outside of Detroit. “I’ll be real comfortable, that’s for sure.”
The tourney runs Thursday through July 15.
Still, as head golf pro at Farmington’s San Juan Country Club, Roth knows that playing against most of the top senior pro golfers in the world is a challenging task.
“I’d like to be real Hollywood about it, but realistically, the answer is probably ‘no,’ ” Roth said when asked if he could win the prestigious event. “I don’t work on my game as consistently as I need to win. Lightning could strike, and I could probably finish in the top 10. But for me to win? That would probably be the story of the century.”
Roth was the subject of some nice stories at each of the past two Senior Opens. Two years ago, he battled his way through a sectional qualifier to get entry into the tournament. After a blazing 66 in Friday’s second round, he found himself playing alongside eventual winner Bernhard Langer in Saturday’s final twosome. Roth struggled to a 75 in the third round and had a 72 on the final day to finish 17th — one shot out of a tie for 13th. A top-15 finish would have automatically qualified him for the 2011 event.
But last year, Roth again was successful in sectional qualifying and grabbed another spot in the Open. Again he shot a 66 on the second day. He had a 68 on Saturday, but bogeyed three of his final five holes. After a 74 in the final round he tied for 15th — a good enough finish to give him an automatic berth this year.
“This has been something I’ve thought about a long time,” says Roth, 54, who moved to Farmington two years ago after being the head pro at Knollwood Country Club in the Detroit area since 2001. “I used to have a 61-mile commute, both ways, to work every day when I was at Knollwood, and I used to see a billboard every day promoting the Open. That was as far back as 2005, when they first knew they were getting it.
“I always thought about how great it would be to play in it when I was a senior. Now, getting to do it is really something.”
— This article appeared on page D8 of the Albuquerque Journal