Okla. – Marco Dawson has been one of the ultimate grinders in professional golf
during a career that began in 1986. Perhaps that’s why he has performed his
best in the toughest events in his rookie season on the Champions Tour.
journeyman who won only once on the Web.com Tour and never hoisted a trophy on
the PGA Tour, Dawson birdied his final three holes and opened the 35th U.S.
Senior Open with a fine 5-under-par 66 at Oak Tree National. Of course, the way
his career has gone, that burst of brilliance did not result in the first-round
lead: Senior PGA champion Colin Montgomerie submitted a 65, stealing Dawson’s
hey, when you get a few lightning strikes at the end of your round, you’re not
inclined to complain.
just seemed to happen, you know, birdie, birdie, birdie the last three holes so
I ended up 5-under,” Dawson said with a shrug, a white towel draped around his
shoulders. “I could have, you know, shot 2-under and it still would have been a
U.S. Senior Open: Monty's 65 Leads
U.S. Senior Open: Round One Photos
non-exempt player after failing to advance through Champions Tour Q-School,
Dawson has competed in six events this year, thanks mainly to three successful
runs through Monday qualifying. He caught a break when he gained entry to the
field as an alternate at the year’s first major, the Regions Tradition, where
he finished tied for ninth. That earned him a spot in the Senior PGA
Championship, and he responded with another tie for ninth that included a
his last start, at the Constellation Senior Players Championship, Dawson ended
up tied for 15th after posting three of four rounds in the 60s.
you're driving the ball well, it doesn't matter really where you play,” said
Dawson, 50, who was an alternate out of the Jacksonville sectional qualifier
but eventually earned a spot at Oak Tree. “You just look out there and you pick
a spot and you hit it there, and that's what I'm doing nowadays. It's fun to
play like that when you're in the fairway all the time. … You're always going
to be on the offensive when you're driving the ball in the fairway.”
would make sense – if Dawson had actually driven it well on Thursday. But on a
blustery morning, he leaned on his putter, not his driver, needing only 25
putts on the slick Oak Tree National greens. Meanwhile, he hit only four of 14
of the 12 greens he hit in regulation were on his final three holes, Nos. 7-9.
He buried a 30-footer at the eighth between two birdie putts of no more than 2
best finish on the PGA Tour was second place at the 1995 Greater Milwaukee
Open. His lone victory came at the 2002 LaSalle Bank Open on the Web.com Tour.
A college teammate of Lee Janzen and Rocco Mediate at Florida Southern, Dawson
said he has not been in contention in a tournament since the 2012 McGladrey
Classic, when he led after an opening 62.
ended up in 68th place, and he will tell you that 72 holes against young guys
is no easy challenge. By the same token, the Lakeland, Fla., resident is now
one of the youngsters on the Champions Tour, a fact he was eager to point out
in explaining further his success in senior majors, which are four rounds
instead of three.
be the four rounds. I know, I hate to say it but a lot of these guys get tired
because of their age,” Dawson said. “They get tired after three rounds, you
know, especially after a practice round and all the walking. So, being that I'm
50, I guess I'm the rookie out here. I've been walking for the last 20 years on
the regular Tour and I've been trying to stay in shape.
know, the first couple of events it was kind of like stepping into time for me
when I first came out, all these same guys were out here playing the regular
tour when I was a rookie out there so it was nice to see those same faces.
Those guys were, you know, great players then, and it's just too bad that they
… have to get old.”
time might finally be on Marco Dawson’s side. And three more rounds in the high
heat of Central Oklahoma can only be to his advantage, too.
and one other factor that might be in his favor: he’s a native of Freising,
Germany. In case you haven’t noticed, German athletes have been on a roll this
Dave Shedloski is an
Ohio-based freelance writer whose work previously has appeared on USGA