Guy Boros hasn’t had the career that his late father, Julius, enjoyed, but there is no shame in that. There aren’t many of Guy’s fellow competitors in this week’s U.S. Senior Open at Del Paso Country Club who have.
A two-time U.S. Open champion (1952, 1963), Julius was one of the best players of his generation. An 18-time PGA Tour winner despite not turning pro until he was 29, he was 48 when he won the 1968 PGA Championship and remains the oldest winner of a major.
Julius, who died in 1994 at 74, thrived on the U.S. Open stage. In addition to his two victories, he had nine top-five finishes from 1951 to 1965. In the 1973 Open at Oakmont Country Club, at 53, he was tied for the lead with 10 holes remaining before tying for seventh.
With its demand for precision, the U.S. Open was a championship tailor-made for Julius, a consistent ball-striker and consummate scrambler when he did made a mistake. If Boros didn’t invent the flop shot, he was one of its early adopters, a creative genius during an era when players didn’t have the luxury of wedges with lofts of 60 degrees or more.
“He loved the Open,” Guy said on Tuesday, the 52nd anniversary of his dad’s playoff victory over Arnold Palmer and Jacky Cupit at The Country Club. “He had the game for the Open. He was a great driver of the ball. Really straight. He had the best hands around the greens I’ve ever seen out of thick rough or from bunkers. He could open up a wedge and work some magic. He made it look pretty easy. I wish I had that problem, making it look easy.”
It wasn’t just Julius’ method, but his even temperament that didn’t change from pro-am to pressure-packed final round in a major. Recalling him last year, golf writer Al Barkow wrote: “Boros playing shots was a body in perpetual motion, like a soft-flowing stream. He played quickly, yet without rushing – a deliveryman in his second decade on the same route.”
Guy, who turned 50 last September, displays traces of his father’s fluid swing in his action. “A little bit,” said Guy, who at 6 feet, 275 pounds is heavier than Julius. “Thank God I was blessed with a little talent.”
When Guy won the 1996 Greater Vancouver Open, he became the first son of a major champion to win a PGA Tour event and first son of a PGA Tour winner to win an individual event since Joe Kirkwood Jr. in 1951. In six full seasons on tour, though, he never finished better than 62nd on the money list. He spent much of his time on the Web.com Tour, where he won three times between 2001 and 2003, but played without much success in his 40s.
“I was playing OK, but the young kids hit it so far it boggles my mind,” said Guy, who is competing in his first Senior Open this week. “It’s not just a few, it’s all of them and the courses out there are geared toward the long hitters.”
Becoming eligible for the Champions Tour, which his father helped get started in 1980, has energized Guy. Despite not earning an exemption through qualifying school last fall, he has played six events in 2015, tying for 10th twice.
“It’s nice to get excited to go play versus dreading to go play,” Boros said of the change in his mindset. “My dad absolutely loved golf. I’m enjoying it more and more. It’s been a struggle the last couple of years playing with the young guys. I’m happy to be out here. I didn’t quite qualify for the Champions Tour, but hopefully I can get out here and last quite a few years.”
In contrast to Julius, Guy had a sparse U.S. Open record: He played twice, tying for 36th at Shinnecock Hills in 1995 and missing the cut at The Olympic Club three years later.
“It was my favorite tournament,” Guy said. “Probably the Senior Open is my favorite tournament now. This is a beautiful course. They’ve got some pretty good rough out here. I usually drive it pretty well, so I hope that holds up.”
Guy’s 13-year-old son, T.J., is caddieing for him. “It’s fun being here with him,” said T.J. “I miss him when he goes away.”
The forecast calls for triple-digit heat later in the week. “I’ve got the bag as light as I can make it for him,” Guy said. “He caddied last year in the John Deere for me, and I knew if he could get around there, this would be no problem. He’s going to be just fine. I’m worried about me making it, not him.”
It will be a good week to channel his dad’s instructional mantra: swing easy, hit hard. Guy was born too late to have fully appreciated his father in his prime, but that came in time.
“When I was a kid, I often wanted to do something other than golf,” Guy said. “As I grew older, I realized that he had some kind of record and some kind of swing. He was a great man, too.”
Bill Fields is a Connecticut-based freelance writer.