Gar Hamilton & John Rushnell Recap U.S. Senior Open Experience


The following is an interview with Gar Hamilton after his first U.S. Senior Open. Hamilton missed the cut after shooting rounds of 79-76.

OPGA - Who did you play your practice rounds with and what did you learn from it?

GH - I played practice rounds with Bob Gilder and R.W. Eaks on the first day. I played pretty well. I also played 9 holes with two old friends Scott Simpson and Mark McNulty. Simpson finished in the top 10 and he is really starting to play well and Mark McNulty who lost in a playoff the week before at the British Senior Open.

OPGA - What was the biggest surprise for you during the week?

GH - No big surprises- I knew the key was going to be driving the ball in the fairway and putting.

OPGA - In your first round you seemed to be moving along okay until an 8. Did that derail you and what exactly happened?

GH - I was getting along pretty well just finished my best hole (#7 – 450 Yards) with a 290 yard drive and then an eight iron to 12 feet and lipped out for birdie, but I was fighting the driver swing in particular. Number 8 is a real super hole and I made the cardinal sin when I hooked my ball into the lake. I had to hit three off the tee and followed that up with a pretty good 6 iron which flew over the back of the green and ended up right against a tree which was a little unlucky. I had to take an unplayable and made a good pitch out of hay to about 6 feet but I missed the putt for an eight. I came right back with a birdie but then hit another horrible hook on number 10 which led to a double and it was a little deflating but I did birdie the next hole for what it’s worth. Anyway I got back to five over and hit two great shots on number 16 and tried to hammer a putt for a birdie and ended up three putting which killed me and I missed short par putt #18 to shoot +7 over.

OPGA - What will you take from the experience and how do you think your game stacks up?

GH - My game around greens especially out of the crap was great, I felt I was hitting shots as well as anybody. I struggled with long game during the week and the old brain can take only so much. If you don’t drive it in the fairway at that level you’re behind the eight ball. If I had a free ticket and was working on it every week I could make some noise but those are a lot of ifs.

OPGA - 20-under-par won the event, the lowest ever, did you expect that going in, was the course set up easy?

GH - I predicted Funk after second round because of his straight driving. If you hit fairways in the right spot you get rewarded, heck I hit a drive 340 yards on one of my last holes. The course was played at 7300 yards forget senior’s playing short.

OPGA - What was the most memorable part of the week?

GH - The venue, the event, everything was magnificent – unfortunately my driver swing on #8 seems to stick out in my mind but the positive is I played my last nine holes in one under with two 3 putts.  At the end of the day the whole experience was magnifique!

The following is an interview with John Rushnell after he competed in his first U.S. Senior Open.  Rushnell shot rounds of 76-76 to miss the cut. Missing the cut was an obvious disappointment but John also had a great time playing in his first 'Major'.

OPGA - If anyone has been to an Ontario PGA tournament where John Rushnell competes they know his other passion is riding his Harley Davidson. The U.S. Senior Open was no different as John drove from Manilla, Ontario all the way down to Carmel, Indiana. What was the drive down like on your Harley?

JR - For me the ride down and back was just the icing on the cake as I got to enjoy both passions. I rode my bike in each day and the volunteers really thought it was neat. It’s probably something they didn’t expect but they all thought it was cool.

OPGA - What was the biggest surprise in terms of the experience for the week?

JR - The biggest surprise was playing real solid golf on that stage. Other than two nervous tee shots (first each day) I handled the pressure real well and proved to myself I could play out there. I actually exceeded my own expectations in terms of my driving and iron play.

OPGA - According to your stats you hit the ball great and hit a lot of greens but putting let you down a bit? Why was that?

JR - I learned if I want to play there I need to work on my putting. I had a hard time adjusting to the speed of the greens. The putting green was around 12 and the course was like 10, and I did not adjust. My caddie said I left 9 putts the first day short going in the heart. I also had it in my head that this was the "U.S. Senior Open" and the greens were supposed to be fast and I couldn’t bring myself to hit the putts harder. This is definitely something I will be working on.

OPGA -What will you remember the most from the week?

JR - I know now why so many guys chase the dream, once you get a taste of the big show you can’t wait to get back. The USGA treated us like a million dollars and the buzz around the event inside and out is just awesome. I even had some Canadian’s following me who were cheering “Go Canada”, and that was pretty cool. It was a special week for sure.

OPGA - Who did you play your practice rounds with and what did you learn from it if anything?

JR - I played practice rounds with Javier Sanchez, Kenny Knox, Jack Ferenz, Steve Thomas and Dave Eichelberger. I knew all of these guys and I felt it was important to set up games with guys I knew in order to get comfortable. Knox, Ferenz, Thomas and Eichelberger are all Champions Tour members and they really treated me as one of the guys.

OPGA - Do you do anything there non golf related that sticks out in your mind?

JR - The only thing non-golf related was having family and friends there to enjoy it with. I had friends drive all night to get there to see me tee off and about 16 of us went out for dinner one night and we enjoyed every moment.

OPGA - What is up next for you in terms of competitive golf?

JR - After getting home I have been making arrangements to go to the Champions Tour Q-school. This (U.S. Senior Open) was the most amazing thing I have done in golf and I would like more. I’m trying to figure out a schedule and practice to prepare for the November Q-School.

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