U.S. SENIOR OPEN
Garwood Keeps Himself Firmly in the Mix June 30, 2017 | PEABODY, Mass. By Ron Driscoll, USGA

Midway through the U.S. Senior Open at Salem Country Club, Doug Garwood has plenty to celebrate. (USGA/Jeff Haynes) 

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As Doug Garwood mulled his approach shot to the 18th green on Friday at Salem Country Club, his thought process wasn’t the stuff found in self-help books.

“I was thinking, you chunk this in the water, you make double [bogey],” said the 54-year-old Californian. “They’ll talk about Garwood being inexperienced, choking at the end, etc. ...”

Garwood proceeded to knock his 4-iron approach over the fronting pond, to within 6 inches of the hole for a tap-in that completed a second-round 67. The commentators were talking about him, all right, thanks to the 67 coming on the heels of a 6-under 64 in Round 1 of the 38th U.S. Senior Open. At 9-under-par 131, Garwood stood alone in second place behind Kirk Triplett (11-under) as the afternoon wave completed Round 2 at Salem.

Where did Garwood come from? The native of Van Nuys, Calif., is no stranger to followers of the PGA Tour Champions, having won the 2016 SAS Championship and having finished 26th and 20th on the money list in 2014 and 2016, respectively. He also finished 38th and 32nd in the U.S. Senior Opens in those two years. In between those seasons, though, he struggled just to get onto the course.

“I basically have three issues,” Garwood explained after Friday’s round. “I have a herniated disc, I have some arthritis, bone-spur action, and then some misalignment of the spine or whatever. So it is what it is. Advil doesn’t really touch it. What I got is what I got.”

Garwood played in just two events in 2015, but was able to rebound in 2016 for his best year. He recognized that the spotlight was a little brighter when his 64 tied the first-round scoring record for the U.S. Senior Open on Thursday, only to be surpassed a short time later, first by 2011 champion Olin Browne (63), then by Kirk Triplett (62).

He got to 10 under for the championship with three birdies in five holes early on the incoming nine on Friday, and the inner discussion with himself may have been spurred by the back-to-back bogeys he had made on Nos. 16 and 17.

“Knocking it to 6 inches was very nice,” said Garwood, who worked in various retail and insurance jobs around four years on the Web.com Tour in the early 2000s. He earned his PGA Tour Champions card for 2014 and knows from long experience how difficult it can be to back up an outstanding round.

“My main focus today was to get started well.” said Garwood. “Usually, when you shoot a low number the day before, you compare the next day to that day. So I really tried to forget that that happened and just play golf. I made a nice save on the first hole, nice save on the second hole, and birdied No. 3. So I had the flow going early and I just kept it going all day.”

He will begin play on Saturday among the leaders, and he knows it will be a bit daunting.

“Maybe because I was near the lead, my hands were getting a little wet,” he said with a smile after his second round. “I figured it was the humidity.”

All he asks for this week is a chance to leave physical issues out of the equation.

“It has been frustrating because I know I have the game to play at this level,” said Garwood. “My swing is not what it was even a couple of years ago, just the ability to turn and stuff. I use the analogy of a three-legged dog. I’ve got to quit trying to run like a four-legged dog and just run like a three-legged dog. I do what I can do.”

He’s doing just fine so far.

Ron Driscoll is the manager of editorial services for the USGA. Email him at rdriscoll@usga.org.

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