Benefield: Windsor golfer Tim Bogue disappointed but determined after Senior Open debut

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I called Tim Bogue to check in on his weekend of golf.

Bogue, who lives in Windsor, qualified for the U.S. Senior Open Championship in Colorado Springs, Colorado, that was played last weekend. He was three strokes from making the cut. A respectable showing, I thought.

But Bogue’s response to my “I want to talk about your weekend” question told me something different.

In effect, he said: I didn’t play golf this weekend.

“If I would have played halfway decent, I don’t know if I would have been too nervous to win, but at least I could have been in the mix,” he said.

Instead, the longshoreman who qualified at the Diablo Country Club last month finished 11 over and three off the cut. He spent his Saturday and Sunday walking the course instead of playing it. And it didn’t have to be that way, he said.

“If my game is on, I felt like I could win that tournament,” he said.

But it was 51-year-old David Toms who held the trophy aloft, his first tournament win in seven years.

“If I would have parred the 12th hole both times, I would have made the cut,” Bogue said. “It wasn’t even a hard hole. But that’s golf. When you play it long enough, it happens.”

On both Thursday and Friday Bogue fell behind fast, but then played his way back into the conversation.

“Both days I got off to terrible starts,” he said. “I brought it back to at least respectability.”

And respectability was no easy feat on a course that seemed to rattle even the old pros.

“The putting was so difficult I got into every single putt,” Toms told reporters.

“Here, the greens, they’ve got you on edge,” Kenny Perry said.

Bogue concurred.

“It was the hardest golf course I have ever played,” he said. “The rough was super long where you had to chip out and all that good stuff. And the greens were so fast, it was really crazy.”

And then there was the altitude. And the wind.

“Uphill, downhill, wind, elevation,” he said. “It was like a math test on every hole.”

But that’s where an insider tip from Davis Love III comes in handy.

Love, captain of the U.S. Ryder Cup teams in 2012 and 2016, and winner of 21 PGA Tour events including the PGA Championship in 1997, was teamed up with Bogue for one of his practice rounds. Their third? Scott Verplank, winner of five PGA Tour events since 1985. Not bad.

And it was Love who swapped phone numbers with Bogue’s caddie in an effort to hook Bogue up with the green reading book.

“They were really awesome guys,” he said.

His first practice round was with Duffy Waldorf, winner of four PGA Tour events.

And that’s what the Open is about — getting a chance to play with and against the big guns. And Bogue, despite what he might tell you, held his own.

He bested a pretty long list of excellent golfers on a course that was, by all accounts, brutal. Bogue scored better than Tom Kite, Fred Funk, Jesper Parnevik and baseball Hall of Famer John Smoltz.

But that one gnaws at Bogue a little.

“What he did was amazing,” Bogues said of Smoltz. “There are tons of athletes that try to qualify for these events all the time and they never make it. It’s just not their realm, it’s not their world.”

Golf is Bogue’s world, so despite Smoltz’s athletic bona fides, he expected to do better than the former pitcher. And he did — by a fair piece. Smoltz finished 22 over.

But what about all of those pros who finished behind Bogue, despite what he described as his subpar play?

“That doesn’t float my boat at all,” he said. “There’s a lot of guys behind me. They are playing again today. I’m at home mowing my grass.”

You see, Bogue went to Colorado on a bit of a mission. To play good golf was one of them, but to play his way onto the senior tour was another.

Sure he had a blast hitting The Broadmoor’s swanky lunch room with the likes of Toms and Love, but he wanted to put up his best game. It didn’t happen.

But Bogue promises he will be back. He’s got some tournaments lined up and he will again give it a go at qualifying school in November. He’s after that tour card. And in that quest, he’s thankful he had the experience he had at the U.S. Senior Open, warts and all.

“Yeah, I played with a lot of great players and held my own,” he said. “And next time will be better. If my game is on, I feel like I could win the tournament. I think this experience just sets you up better for anything you do in golf, to tell you the truth.

“Someday I’ll do something special,” he said. “Just not this one.”

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