Golf dream realised after 36 years' effort
After 36 years of trying, Winterfield pro Kevin Phillips at last achieved his lifelong dream on Monday after qualifying for this week's Senior Open at Turnberry.
The 54-year-old, head professional at the Dunbar club for 22 years, has repeatedly tried to get into first The Open and - after turning 50 - the Senior Open, but at Dundonald Links on Monday he finally achieved his goal.
Phillips made light of the horrendous conditions in Ayrshire to post a four-over 76 and then faced a nail-biting wait of more than six hours to see if he had done enough to qualify.
Only nine spots were available for the 102 golfers taking part on the course, but Phillips' score proved just enough to see him finish in a three-way tie for seventh and make it to the most prestigious European Senior Tour tournament, which was due to start yesterday (Thursday) and continue until Sunday.
"It's amazing, I'm in heaven," a delighted Phillips told Courier Sport. "When I turned pro when I was 18 I always wanted to play in The Open, it was always my dream. I've tried a few times for it and the Senior Open and now I've finally made it.
"It's taken 36 years and it was a hell of an afternoon waiting to see if I'd made it, but it has been worth every minute.
"In my position as club pro I don't get to play many events, so it's difficult to go out and play my best, especially playing against boys who play all the time."
Phillips' reward is the chance to test himself against the game's top senior players on the world-class Turnberry course.
And although realistic about his chances in so talented a field, he hopes to be playing over the weekend.
"Realistically I would be over the moon to make the cut," he said. "I don't expect big things but I'm going to enjoy myself when I'm there. I know I'm hitting the ball pretty well.
"I'm so excited about it, all the top boys are here, the Tom Watsons and the like. I've been on the practice ground and looking at their cars - they must be worth more than my house!"
He added: "This is definitely the biggest moment of my career. I've played in two European Tour and three Senior Tour events, but this is a real step up."
Phillips was set to be one of the first players out on the course as he was drawn with David Merriman and Rossouw Loubser, due to start at 7.20am yesterday, just the third group to play.
Wife Linda said of her husband: "We are so proud of him and wish him the best of luck."
Phillips will not be the only county competitor. David Russell of Archerfield and Renaissance pro Stephen McAllister, both past European Tour winners, are among the field.