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Petrovic Knocks on Door to Victory Yet Again July 1, 2018 | Colorado Springs, Colo. By Dave Shedloski

Tim Petrovic fell one stroke short at The Broadmoor, but will take plenty of great memories from the week. (USGA/Chris Keane)

U.S. Senior Open Home

Tim Petrovic, lanky and owner of an easy laugh, joked several times this week at the U.S. Senior Open Championship that soon a book will be coming out about the various career avenues he traversed before he found success in professional golf.

Long before he earned more than $12 million on the PGA Tour, Petrovic was forced to supplement his income with jobs ranging from delivering pizzas to working at the YMCA. It’s an old story by now.

“I think I’ve pretty much covered it all,” he said when the subject was broached again Sunday at The Broadmoor, as perhaps he knew it would.

But at this stage of his life, Petrovic is simply a golfer, and at 51, he’s quite a good one. He only won once on the PGA Tour, at the 2005 Zurich Classic of New Orleans, and he has yet to win in his second full season on the PGA Tour Champions. But what he accomplished this week on the obstinate East Course layout will undoubtedly propel him for some time to come.

After navigating sectional qualifying to get into the 39th U.S. Senior Open, Petrovic tied for second place, one stroke behind champion David Toms. But how he finished, sticking a wedge to within 3 feet of the hole and sinking the birdie putt to give himself a chance to get in a playoff, was a shot with sauce that no average pizza boy is going to pull off.

“It was definitely a shot I’m going to remember,” said Petrovic, who battled to an even-par 70 – one of 14 players to shoot par or better on a windy final day – and finished at 2-under 278. “When I hit the shot, I thought it might go in. It looked like it had a chance. And the putt, it was the hardest putt I had all day. Really fast. I was pretty proud of how I finished.”

Owner of the lowest round of the championship – a second-round 5-under 65 – Petrovic recorded his third runner-up finish of 2018 and his second in a row in a senior major after falling four strokes shy of Paul Broadhurst at the Senior PGA Championship. Strangely, the trio of second-place finishes constitute his only top-10 finishes in 11 events.

With the top 15 earning invitations to next year’s U.S. Senior Open at the Warren Golf Course at Notre Dame, Petrovic gets to bypass the qualifying stage. Just like he had to do earlier in his career, the Texas resident has had to earn his way through the senior ranks.

He was surprised to find out about the exemption. And pleased, too.

“I'm looking forward to it,” he said of the 2019 championship. “I played that golf course before, and it's a real tough course. I played it about a year and a half ago, and it's going to be a real challenge for us. I think I'll take the same score right now and I'll sit in the clubhouse and wait. It's going to be fun.”

Dave Shedloski is an Ohio-based freelance writer who frequently contributes to USGA digital channels.