BC's Phil Jonas Plays His Way Into U.S. Senior Open

BC's Phil Jonas Will Be Teeing It With The Legends Of The Game In The 2017 U.S. Senior Open At Salem Country Club In Massachusetts 

By Brad Ziemer, British Columbia Golf

Phil Jonas is about to complete the Senior Open double.

Five years ago, Jonas played in the Senior Open Championship at Turnberry Golf Club in Scotland. On Monday, the 55-year-old Surrey-based teaching pro played his way into this summer’s U.S. Senior Open.

Jonas birdied four of his last six holes to shoot a three-under 69 and win a qualifier at Bellingham Golf & Country Club. Jonas was the only player under par in the 47-man field.

Jonas said he made a decision this spring to try the qualifier rather than play in this week’s PGA of Canada Championship, where he finished third last year. “This was a bit of longshot, obviously, because you have to go qualify,” Jonas said. “But I have never played in a U.S. Senior Open, so I thought I should give it a shot before it’s all over.”

It was Jonas’s good friend, Tom Spragge, who convinced him to play in Monday’s qualifier. Spragge, a member at Bellingham, caddied for Jonas on Monday and will be on his bag at next month’s U.S. Senior Open.

The tournament is being played June 29-July 2 at Salem Country Club in Peabody, Mass. The course, designed by Donald Ross, opened in 1925 and has played host to one other U.S. Senior Open and five previous United States Golf Association championships. The tournament offers a $4-million purse, the largest in senior golf.

Jonas, who spent two years on the European Senior Tour, knows he will be battling some nerves when he tees it up with the biggest names in senior golf. “I have the length and have a pretty good short game,” he said. “I think my game doesn’t work against me, it’s more that I will be playing out of my element. That is always tough.

“I think if I go there, have fun, I could come 30th or something. I don’t know. I think the key is to go play and see what happens. I feel like my game is fine. It’s just whether I can handle the inactivity. This year has been the worst of any year ever for me in terms of not playing any golf. I have hardly played any tournaments. That is kind of tough. But hey, you never know. It’s golf.”

Jonas, who teaches out of Hazelmere and McCleery golf courses, was almost as happy with the USGA medal he received for winning the qualifier as he was about gaining entry into the tournament. “I never thought I’d get one of those,” he said. “If you win a qualifier they give you a medal. So that is something I never had.”

Asked how he will prepare for the event, Jonas said: “I will try and teach more lessons so I can pay for my trip.”

CHIP SHOT: Two spots were up for grabs in Bellingham. Keith Henderson of Blaine claimed the second spot with an even-par 72.