LAKE ORION, MICH. - Ron Gonzalez, a former Sunnyside resident who was a member of the SHS 1977 graduating class, last Friday shaved three strokes off his opening round score at the U.S. Senior Golf Open.
His opening two-day total at the USGA-sponsored tournament, considered one of the Champions Tour's major events, left Gonzalez in good company with the likes of Hale Irwin, Kenny Perry, Hal Sutton and Craig Stadler. Unfortunately, what the five golfers had in common was missing the cut for the final two rounds of the championship tourney, staged at Indianwood Golf & Country Club's old course.
The 52-year-old Gonzalez, who went from amateur to professional status in 2002 and now calls Goodyear, Ari. his home, where he is employed as a health physics technician at a nuclear power plant, got into the U.S. Senior Golf Open as an alternate, thanks to a third-place finish at a sectional qualifier in Arizona.
He stumbled out of the gate last Thursday on the Lake Orion, Mich. course, shooting an 11-over-par 81 in his first-ever appearance on one of golf's major stages. Gonzalez rebounded somewhat on Friday, though, turning in a 78.
Friday's round included snaring a couple of birdies, something that eluded Gonzalez during his opening 18 holes of play.
Gonzalez's two-day, 19-over-par total left him 15 strokes shy of the cutline, keeping him from advancing into the weekend portion of the Open.
The eventual winner, England's Roger Chapman, had rounds of 68-68-68-66 in posting a two-stroke victory over four golfers who shared runner-up honors. The second-place finishers included Tom Lehman, Corey Pavin, Bernhard Langer and Fred Funk.
For Chapman, a journeyman golfer on the PGA European Tour but who only found limited success, the U.S. Senior Open title he secured yesterday was the second major he claimed in 2012, having won the Senior PGA Championship earlier this year. He is only the fourth golfer ever to have won the U.S. Senior Open and the Senior PGA Championship in the same year.