It might be a good year to be an alternate for the U.S. Senior Open.
A long flight from the Senior British Open has left many of the 50-and-over golfers ragged. Two big names – American Paul Azinger and Zimbabwe’s Nick Price – withdrew Monday for various ailments.
Azinger’s departure opened up a spot for another in-state professional – Spokane’s Gary Lindeblad, who was the first alternate from the qualifying site at Semiahmoo Golf and Country Club in Blaine.
It was a bit of feel-good news around the Northwest. Up until last summer, Lindeblad, 59, spent much of a decade battling Waldenstrom’s macroglobulinemia, often a fatal form of lymphoma.
He is now cancer-free, and ready to tackle golf’s biggest stage for senior players for the first time.
“I’ve got to tell you,” he said, sitting in his office, making last-minute travel arrangements from Indian Canyon Golf Club, “I’m pretty excited.”
Lindeblad is coming off a pretty busy couple of weeks. He organizes the Rosauers Invitational, which is one of the most popular tournaments in the Northwest.
He was in his office Monday morning when a United States Golf Association official phoned him to get him the news he was in the U.S. Senior Open field.
“I had a lot of teaching lessons planned this week,” he said. “I’ve spent the last hour calling (to reschedule).”
Lindeblad will fly out Tuesday, and play a late practice round at Sahalee Country Club for the first time.
When told he would not only be taking Azinger’s spot, he’d be playing in his originally-scheduled group with Tom Lehman and Hal Sutton – both former major championship winners – Lindeblad had an extra worry.
“It means I have to iron (my outfits),” he said.