He competes against world-class competition in Omaha, Nebraska.
Sal Felice’s favorite storyice about his recent experience at the 41st US Senior Open Championship happened on his very first day on the court in Omaha, Nebraska.
“I went to the range the day I arrived and asked for golf balls to practice on,” he said. “They usually give you a bucket of golf balls, all of which are beaten up and old with stripes on them. But at the championships they ask you if you want Titleist Pro balls or Titleist Pro V1. And they are brand new golf balls! I was so captivated that I would have been completely satisfied just hitting balls on the driving range all weekend. “
Felice, a Hollister resident, competed against 155 amateur and professional golfers over 50 from around the world in the 2021 Senior Open, which ran from July 7th to 11th. He got a 72 on the first day and an 85 on the second day, not quite good enough to make the cut. While he missed the rest of the tournament and finished 101st in the field, he is far from disappointed.
“I told myself before entering that I wouldn’t let my performance dictate my experience,” he said. “And the experience for the week was everything I imagined and better. My daughter was a caddy for me and we both had a great time out there. “
Felice qualified for the tournament straight away and competed against 2,999 other senior golfers for a place in the final. While playing as an amateur, he competed against seasoned professionals like event winner Jim Furyk, one of only eight players to ever win both the US Open (2003) and the US Senior Open.
The first day went well for Felice, he finished 30th on the greens in the regulations and fifth on the fairways. But reaching the fairway is only one measure of success and he found he withdrew his putting.
“I hit the ball incredibly well from tee to green,” he said. “But I putt like I’m afraid of missing out. I putted like I didn’t want a three-footer to come back, and I was afraid I wouldn’t make it. I did this for two days and could never commit myself to hitting the putt the way I should have done. “
Felice noticed how imperfect some of the high-ranking competitors were in person.
“One thing I saw was all these guys get bad shots every now and then,” he said. “All you see on TV is the great shots they took. You never see the bad shots, so you get this misconception that they are flawless. They hit bad shots just like me and it was refreshing to see! “
After playing nationally, surrounded by family, friends and famous golfers, and with daughter Giavanna, 17, an aspiring senior from San Benito High School carrying his clubs on the course, he has nothing but good things to say about the event .
“Between the hospitality and the food, you are pampered for a week,” he said. “It’s unbelievable how spoiled you feel. And there were 17 people who came out with me just to follow me and watch me. To think that there were so many people who were so interested is great. “
J. Given traveled to Omaha with Felice to cheer him on.
“I’ve known Sal since my first year in high school,” Given said, “and he took me to golf. We’ve talked about him doing this, and when he did his first try it was an easy opportunity to play one of your close friends against some of the best players in the world. “
Felice said that he looked like he belonged out there: extremely comfortable and well-fitting in an incredibly difficult place.
“To see someone you know behind the ropes with some of the best players in the world who have won big tournaments is just amazing,” said Given. “And if it was an incredible experience for me, I can’t imagine what it was.” As for him. “
To Felice, it still seems like a dream come true who never expected to be as good as him. And he looks forward to doing it again one day.
“The stress was great,” says Felice, “but I came out more confident than I went in. I will continue to work on my putting and distance control. I have to go through the whole process all over again, but the only benefit I have is that I’ve done it before. So I intend to do it again. “
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