Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Champions Tour Veteran Captures Senior Open Spot

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Champions Tour Veteran Captures Senior Open Spot

Article excerpt

Brian Henninger's golf career has been all about hanging in there.

At 5 feet 8, 150 pounds, he is not a long hitter, not the most powerful player in the game. He was a walk-on at the University of Southern California and started playing for pay on the Golden State Golf Tour. He advanced to the Nationwide Tour (now Web.com Tour), where he won three times and played his way onto the PGA Tour. He won twice in the big leagues and hung around long enough to play 310 events and earn $3.3 million.

On the Champions Tour, his career has been stunted by a slew of "golf surgeries," including procedures on both knees, a shoulder, his neck and left elbow. He has hung in there.

So with a U.S. Senior Open qualifying spot on the line Monday at St. Clair Country Club, Henninger did what he does best he hung in there. And after suffering a bogey at No. 18 to create a playoff with fellow Champions Tour member Jay Don Blake, Henninger prevailed.

The 53-year-old Sacramento, Calif., native defeated Blake on the second extra hole to capture the single spot available to a 35- player field. Henninger will have a tee time during the Senior Open, Aug. 11-14 at Scioto Country Club in Columbus, Ohio.

"I was playing this place blind today," said Henninger, who had never seen St. Clair. "So I'm really proud of myself. I was accurate with my irons I think I only missed two greens all day. And I hung in there really well."

Blake's 1-under-par 70 was already in when Henninger came to the 18th tee, carrying four birdies, two bogeys and a 2-under tab. But his second shot on the hilly, 487-yard par 5 put him out of position. Henninger wound up looking at a 12-foot putt for a spot- earning par. His attempt was on line but stopped just short of the hole.

"I didn't really know where I stood," Henninger said. "I mean, Jay Don and I do this for a living, so I figured he was going to be in there, maybe John Riegger (another Champions Tour veteran in the field) and maybe a guy just having a great day.

"So I knew 2 under was going to be pretty good. But I left that putt just short."

The bogey sent Henninger and Blake to No. …

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