LAKE ORION, MICH. - A Sunnyside High School alum, Ron Gonzalez, teed his ball up this morning at the 33rd U.S. Senior Open.
Born in Toppenish who spent his prep years in Sunnyside during the mid-1970s, Gonzalez is now a resident of Goodyear, Ari. The 52-year-old Gonzalez qualified to compete at the Senior Open by placing third at a sectional competition staged at Arrowhead Country Club in Arizona less than two weeks ago.
Gonzalez placed third at the sectional qualifier, which only advanced the top two golfers to the national event that opened today (Thursday) at Indianwood Golf & Country Club in Lake Orion, Mich. His third-place finish, however, put him on the list as an alternate to the U.S. Senior Open. And when D.A. Weibring, a five-time winner on the PGA and Senior Champions tours, had to withdraw with an Achilles tendon injury, it was Gonzalez who was first in line to take his spot.
According to the USGA, the sponsoring body of the U.S. Senior Open, Gonzalez gave up his amateur status to turn pro in 2002, although he is currently employed as a health physics technician at a nuclear power plant. USGA officials note that he and his wife, Pam, have two sons and a daughter.
Gonzalez has been playing golf since the age of 12. According to a family spokesman, this was the third year that the Lower Yakima Valley native has attempted to qualify for the U.S. Senior Open.
He was scheduled to tee off today at Indianwood Golf & Country Club at 9:50 a.m. (PST). Included in his opening round trio were Mike Goodes and Jay Don Blake.
The large field at the U.S. Senior Open, comprised of both professionals and amateurs, include such names as Fred Couples, Tom Kite, Mark Calcavecchia, Fred Funk, Jay Haas, Tom Lehman, Corey Pavin, Kenny Perry, Hal Sutton and Tom Watson.