Wells qualifies for U.S. Senior Open

Published 1:08 pm Thursday, June 27, 2013

Steve Wells has gotten better with age as a golfer.

Steve Wells

Steve Wells

He proved that again on June 24 at the U.S. Senior Open qualifying tournament at the Flint Golf Club.

The 59-year-old Niles resident shot a two-under par 70 and won a four-man playoff to qualify for the U.S. Senior Open, which will take place from July 11 to July 14 in Omaha, Neb.

An unlikely birdie on the par-5, No. 1 hole gave Wells a trip to Omaha.

Wells had ended up with a bogey earlier in the day playing that hole and got off to another bad start on that hole during the playoff.

“On both drives, I was on the right side of the hole behind the trees,” said Wells. “At that point (during the playoff), I was playing for par. During the second shot, the ball probably went 170 yards and into the rough to the left side of the fairway. On the third shot, I hit the ball pretty good with my pitching wedge and the ball went 125 yards. I then the hit the ball 35 yards and got a birdie. It was sudden victory and lucky for me that the ball went in on that fourth shot.”

Not a bad day for someone who was attempting to qualify for the senior open for the first time.

Wells has been a golf professional since he got out of Western Michigan University.

“I played in other tournaments in Michigan during the summer and, quite frankly, your odds are not good to qualify and sometimes the qualifier is far away,” Wells said. “I decided this year to qualify and it worked out.”

Wells, who has played golf since he was five years old and was part of the 1972 state champion golf team at Cassopolis High School, has played in National Club Professional Tournaments and Senior Club Professional Tournaments. In 2010, he won the Michigan Senior Open Championship with a 6-under par over 36 holes at Bedford Valley Golf Course in Battle Creek.

“When I was young I was a pretty good golfer,” said Wells, who’s a golf pro at Hampshire Country Club just outside of Dowagiac. “When I turned 40 to 45 years of age I started playing even better. I practiced a lot.”

Five to six days a week, Wells plays golf. In preparation for the senior open, he played 27 holes on Wednesday. Wells played 18 holes at Bedford Valley Golf Course and nine at Hampshire Country Club. He shot a 1-under par at Bedford and a 1-over par at Hampshire.

“Not too bad,” Wells said.

Wells hopes to get in three practice rounds in the days before the U.S. Senior Open.

“Hopefully, I’ll get hooked up with a well known player,” Wells said.

Wells isn’t just happy to be at the prestigious tournament, which has 156 golfers at the start.

“I want to play well and make the cut,” Wells said. “An attitude is very important. I feel like I have a very good competitive attitude. I think having that works to my advantage.”

The lowest 60 scores, plus ties make the cut.