'It's a huge deal to qualify. It's the British Open. That says it all,' Sindelar said Wednesday during a pro-am at En-Joie Golf Club. 'I want to go back very badly, but this year's fit wasn't quite right.'
The B.C. Open fit just fine, though. So the 45-year-old Sindelar, who missed the cut when Greg Norman won at Turnberry in 1986, will play a course he won on in 1985 and 1987.
And it's not so bad, really, because Sindelar grew up only an hour away -- in Horseheads, N.Y. -- and still calls it home.
'It's a home week for me. That's the important thing -- comfort,' said Sindelar, who ranks 74th on the money list with $555,439. He could nearly double his earnings with a win. 'Getting home on Monday, you can play five tournaments, and it only feels like three.'
Sindelar and J.L. Lewis were among several players at the Western Open who had a chance to qualify for the 132nd British Open. The Royal & Ancient Golf Club gives PGA Tour players a chance to get into the Open without having to qualify the weekend before in England.
Lewis made the trip to Royal St. George's in Sandwich, England. Officials at the B.C. Open fully expected Sindelar to do the same.
'The local guys called me and told me they wanted me to go, not to even think about it,' said Sindelar, who beat Jeff Sluman by four strokes in 1987 to become the first two-time B.C. Open winner. 'I can't call it agonizing, but it was still a tough decision because it was two good choices.'
Brad Faxon is the only other two-time B.C. Open champion. He won in 1999, beating Fred Funk in a playoff, and again in 2000, when he failed to qualify for the British Open and flew back to defend his title at the 6,974-yard, par-72 course.
Sindelar has been wildly popular here ever since he holed a 5-iron tee shot from 201 yards on the 14th hole of the final round in 1985 to take the lead for good. He beat Mike Reid by one shot and calls that one of the greatest moments of his career.
Spike McRoy can identify with that. He drained a 31-foot birdie putt on the final hole last year to beat Funk by one stroke. That made McRoy the 12th player since the B.C. Open began 30 years ago to claim his first PGA Tour victory at En-Joie.
Considering McRoy missed the cut at the B.C. Open the first three times he played the tournament, the victory remains special.
'It's no problem having to put up with winning. It's a pretty good deal,' said McRoy, who tied for 10th last week at the Greater Milwaukee Open. 'It's great to be back in a place where I have pretty positive thoughts.'
The field was at 151 Wednesday, five below the norm after several players pulled out.
Sindelar, who has only six victories on Tour, hasn't won since he beat Willie Wood in a playoff at the 1990 Hardee's Golf Classic. He's still shooting.
'To win anything would be fun,' Sindelar said. 'And if I get silly and win a couple of tournaments, I'll have a chance to get back to the Masters. There are a lot of things I still want to do, and I'm not willing to give it all up, especially when I have a shot at another major.'
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