There was no
debate in July over who had endured the most hardscrabble, circuitous route to
the 2013 U.S. Senior Open in Omaha, Neb.
Peter Horrobin survived
a playoff in sectional qualifying to become the first Jamaican to play in the championship.
However, that distinction does not begin to describe the hardships overcome by
the 52-year-old, who started playing golf as a child in Kingston using a broken
club affixed to a PVC pipe.
After an opening
round highlighted by a birdie-eagle combination that briefly gave him a share
of the lead, Horrobin admitted that he had battled his emotions all day. “I’m
just a crybaby. I still can’t believe I’m here playing alongside the best
senior players in the world. I played 18 holes today, drying my eyes from
Horrobin had also
wept earlier in the week, when all of the emotion of the ups and downs that led
to him making a clinching birdie putt in the Port St. Lucie, Fla., qualifier
came out during an interview.
Video: Peter Horrobin Discusses Journey To U.S. Senior Open
“The first person
I called [after qualifying] was my mom,” said Horrobin. “She’s 89 years old,
and she’s always said to me, son, stick to your dream. I would like to see you
on television one day. … She brought up seven of us without a dad. So I’m
always, always looking to my mom for all type of encouragement.”
Horrobin grew up
near Constant Spring Golf Club in Kingston, and he quickly became enthralled
with the game.
generally play soccer or cricket, but I said, ‘I think I want to learn this
sport,’” Horrobin recounted. “I went across to the golf course, and I found a
broken club, and I thought, maybe I can be creative and practice with this
club. So I got a PVC pipe and put some nails to it, and I would hit probably
10, 20 balls before the head would fly off, and then I would do it again.”
Horrobin became a
caddie at Constant Spring, where a member loaned him her full set of clubs. He
was able to break 80 by age 11, and when his family obtained a visa, he moved
to Florida in 1976.
“I learned from
watching players hitting balls, and that’s the way I developed my skills,” said
Miami Central High School, where he became the No. 1 player on the golf team.
He went on to play at Miami-Dade Community College and planned to play
collegiately for two more years at Florida International University, until the
golf team was disbanded.
Horrobin left the
game for a while, getting married and raising three children. In 1989, he began
to play in earnest, and turned professional. Horrobin often put up his own
money to compete, and he suffered a couple of major financial losses when
mini-tours he played on went under, taking his money with them.
Over the years,
Horrobin made ends meets by working as a handyman and a freelance electrician.
He earned a conditional card on the European Senior Tour in 2012, but played in
just three events, his best finish a tie for 51st.
through some sad times, but this is my dream,” he said. “I don’t want to give
up my dream. I’m so proud of myself. I’m going to try to play good this week,
and whether I play good or not, I’m so proud to be here, to be the first
Jamaican to make the U.S. [Senior] Open.”
The support and
encouragement that Horrobin received from the gallery throughout the week touched
said Horrobin after his opening round. “You guys showed me so much love. I
appreciate it. I mean, everybody knows my name out here. … I feel like I was
born right here.”
His first round
of even-par 70 left Horrobin tied with major champions Tom Watson, Tom Kite and
Steve Elkington, but he faded with a second-round 80 to miss the cut by five
“I played pretty
good,” said Horrobin after the first round. “But this is golf. You never know.”
Indeed, you never know when a player’s score will
become far less important than the path he took to the championship.