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Headline: Hatherly CC's Chip Johnson and New England Native Ron Philo Punch Tickets to 2017 U.S. Senior Open Championship
For Immediate Release: May 24, 2017
The next stop for Hatherly CC's Chip Johnson is the 2017 U.S. Senior Open Championship to be held at Salem CC.
Salem, MA — There are very few certainties when it comes to golf, but for Hatherly Country Club golf professional Chip Johnson, knowing where he’ll be staying come next month’s 2017 U.S. Senior Open Championship is all but a lock.
The 54-year old Hingham resident earned medalist honors at Wednesday’s qualifier after firing a 3-under par 67 at Kernwood Country Club to ensure his spot in the 38th Championship Proper, taking place a short five miles from the day’s sectional qualifier at Salem Country Club in Peabody.
With the victory, Johnson gains entry to his second U.S. Senior Open Championship in three years after advancing to California’s Del Paso Country Club in 2015.
Johnson joins Ron Philo (Stowe, VT) - whose sister is LPGA Tour player Laura Diaz - as the two qualifiers who now have the opportunity to contend against the likes of defending champion Gene Sauers, Fred Couples and Tom Watson for the famed Francis Ouimet Trophy.
CLICK HERE for complete results from the sectional qualifier at Kernwood CC.
Philo beat out South Shore native Geoffrey Sisk (Marshfield, Mass.) in a one-hole playoff after the two carded matching scores of 1-under par 69 at the end of 18-holes.
As a result, Sisk becomes the first alternate. Sisk is a six-time winner of the Massachusetts Open Championship, who will be competing for his record seventh title on June 12-14 at TGC at Sacconnesset.
“I certainly didn’t expect it,” said Johnson on qualifying for Championship Proper. “I definitely haven’t been playing enough and when I have been playing, there certainly wasn’t anything that would have indicated that I would have played great today. It was a nice surprise.”
After starting on Kernwood’s 8th hole, Johnson made birdie on the par-3 9th and par-4 10th holes to get out to an early lead that he wouldn’t let diminish.
“I felt pretty good about it until the other two guys birdied the hole too,” joked Johnson. “It was good though. Getting off to a good start is always much easier so you are not fighting and scrapping.”
He countered his five birdies with two bogeys and 13 pars on the day, two birdies of which came on the final four holes.
“I’ve played this course enough to know that it’s a shorter course, but very tricky,” recalled Johnson, the 2002 NEPGA Champion. “When you make a bogey, you just move on. I was happy being under par. I had a couple of bad tee shots, but I recovered well and never really panicked.”
As he advances to Championship Proper, Johnson that one will have an extra meaning.
“Playing in any U.S. Senior Open is fun to play in, but this one is special for me,” said Johnson. “My mom is from Salem and I was born in Salem Hospital. My dad’s from Peabody, so we’re a North Shore family. This has special meaning for me.”
Johnson plans to make the daily commute from Hingham to the Championship site. He was the only one in the field to commute when he qualified for the U.S. Open at The Country Club in 1988, a Championship Proper that he finished T40 at.
Kernwood Country Club golf professional Frank Dully II carded an even-par 70 on the day to net the second alternate spot, which was decided in a one-hole playoff with John Hickson (Topsham, Maine).