2019 is the first year that the USGA is using the WAGR to exempt the top 15 ranked senior in the world into the USGA Senior Amateur. Finally this ranking becomes relevant for senior golfers (over the age of 55).
I followed my ranking closely as the USGA Senior Amateur qualifier was in San Diego the day after I returned from Scotland to play in the Senior Amateur there. Once the entry deadline date is established, that is the date they look for the top 15 ranked players. I was jostling between 7th and 12th, with tournaments from 2 years prior falling off, with new events being added. So you really don’t ever know if your going up the list or down relative to the other guys and what’s going on with them.
I was holding my breath as the last day for entries came July 11th and was thrilled to see that I held on at #12 in the world and would not need to travel down to San Diego to play in a 80 man for 5 spot qualifier, especially with my bad ankle.
I had the craziest week in North Carolina at Old Chatham. I was thinking that my ankle was going to be my main issue, but on Thursday during my practice round I started to hiccup and at first I thought nothing about it, until they didn’t stop. I went back to the hotel and started doing research on all the best ways to stop the hiccups. I spent a sleepless night, and finally on Friday afternoon (after I decided not to play my last practice round) I went to the UNC emergency room. Instead of going to an Urgent care facility I thought a University hospital would be able to treat my hiccups better.
WOW I was wrong. There were 100 people in the waiting room when I arrived at 3pm. 5 times I was called in for various test, including chest X-ray, blood, EKG, etc OMG I was there until 10:00 PM waiting to be seen my a doctor. In the mean time I texted my buddy DOC McD in SF who is a rock star emergency room doc, and he responded right back saying “only you Randy, this could only happen to you” as well as he sent me the three possible drugs they would give me to hopefully stop the hiccups.
After another hour waiting on my ER bed, a doc shows up and seems to be confused as what to do about my chronic hiccups, and after another hour decides to give me one of the drugs that was on the list provided by my doc friend in SF.
I took the pills and waited to see if the hiccups would stop, they didn’t and I pushed my call button many times to see if someone would come to give me the next drug on the list. Nobody responded so I walked out into their bullpen to find the nurses and doctors all eating and talking. I was pissed!!
Finally the supervisor doctor came to speak to me, now its 1:00 AM and I tee off at 8:10 am the next morning in the first qualifying round. She said to go back and get some rest if I can, and hopefully the hiccups will subside for a while. I left at 1:20 am and finally on the drive back to my hotel the hiccups stopped.
I got a little rest, and was hopeful that the hiccups would stay away as my esophagus was so sore from the contractions I could barely stand it any longer. Unfortunately after playing 15 solid holes at even par, the hiccups returned with a vengeance on the 17th tee box. I was finishing on the 8th and 9th holes, both birdie holes. But with my hiccups hitting me hard every 5 seconds I had an additional challenge just beyond a tough golf course.
I ended up making bogey on the last two holes and finished with a 74. At lunch while trying to eat between the hiccups I got some advice from a fellow competitor the eat a large scoop on Peanut Butter, that it would coat my esophagus and perhaps stop the hiccups. In the mens locker room there was a huge plate of peanut butter and crackers, I took a huge scoop of peanut butter and headed to my car.
As I was driving out of the driveway the hiccups did stop, but not for long. back at my hotel they started up again making ever so more hopeless and exhausted and disappointed. I decided to go to a movie once they again stopped, hoping I would not disturb everyone in the theatre if they started up again, as they are VERY loud once going.
I cannot believe I am writing about this, but you’ll never know how horrible the chronic hiccups are unless you’ve had this happen to you. What I realized was that something I ate on Wednesday evening gave me bad acid reflux, and the cause of my hiccups was that acid reflux igniting my esophagus into a spasm. I was able to get a prescription for my acid reflux which in turn calmed my hiccups down.
After another 74 on Sunday I was the 23rd qualifier (64 qualify for match play out of the 156 players) I drew a match with an old nemesis Bob Kearny from Houston. Bob had years ago beaten me in back to back years in the quarter finals of the USGA Mid Amateur championship. Bob is a very good player and a VERY good putter.
I hate to report that during my match with Bob, the putting yips were at their all time peak performance. I missed 3 footer after 3 footer, and saw my ship sinking rapidly as Bob kept making every putt under 20 feet that he had. Championship golf is won with good putting first and foremost. After all the golf over the weekend and dealing with the hiccups it was too much for me to get re-focused and a quick exit from match play resulted.
But honestly I was unsure that I was even going to play in the event with my ankle in such bad shape. Not in a million years did I think that my main challenge was going to be the hiccups. I left quickly after my defeat to get back home to see about rehabbing my body.
The NCGA Senior at Poppy Hills was a similar disappointment as I held a one shot lead going into the final round, after rounds of 69,73. The ankle was holding up ok, but on the last day there was no way I could transfer my weight to my left side. All ugly arm swings, resulting in an ugly 78 and a T7th finish. My buddy Mike Rowley played solid and birdied the final hole to win the event. I was super happy for him, and if I couldn’t win, I was glad it was him.
Coming up- the battle for NCGA Senior Player of the year, it comes down to the final tournament of the year, the Tracy City