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Always make sure you have a receipt confirmation – that’s the moral of this story.
Just ask Marco Dawson, winner of the 2015 Senior British Open, who won’t be playing in this year’s edition at the course where he claimed the biggest victory of his career, because he forgot to enter.
“There’s a first time for everything and it’s painful but I know I won’t do that again,” Dawson said in a phone interview.
Dawson had this event circled on his calendar since it was announced and had to wait an extra year due to COVID-19. He had watched the DVD of the final round and has it stored on his laptop, though every shot already is tattooed into his memory bank. In preparation, he had re-gripped his clubs in his garage last week and arranged a practice round with Shane Bertsch. He had his bags packed, his passport ready, flights booked, a hotel room and rental car reserved and had gone through the mandatory COVID-19 test (even though he’s already vaccinated).
All that was missing was his letter of accreditation, which hadn’t arrived yet via email. So, Dawson contacted PGA Tour Champions player representative Jimmy Gabrielson to find out if there was a delay, and on Friday, 36 hours before his flight across the pond, he was informed of his user error. In disbelief, he scoured his computer files for a receipt, but none was to be found.
“I was convinced I filled it out. I usually fill out my forms as soon as I get them,” he said. “In April, I began checking the website daily and as soon as it was available I filled out the form confirming I’d be there. The only thing I can think of was I got distracted. I had to add in my direct deposit info. I must have gotten sidetracked and never finished it. In 30 years of playing professional golf, I have never made that mistake. It was an oversight and I accept responsibility.”
But it did leave him wondering if someone at the R&A shouldn’t double-check with exempt players that had failed to register to confirm they intended to skip the championship. He said the PGA Tour staff had bailed players out doing just that on more than one occasion over the years.
“Don’t they want the best field possible?” said Dawson, noting that Fred Funk and other exempt players also made the same mistake. “I’m not blaming them but the more I think about it the more I’m pissed they didn’t help out, especially since I won the last one there.”
Ah, that would be in 2015, the last time the Senior Open was held at Sunningdale (Old) in Berkshire, England. Dawson had the week of his life, beating Hall of Famers Bernhard Langer and Colin Montgomerie with a final-round 64 that included two eagles and a 22-foot birdie putt on the final hole. He drank champagne from the winner’s Claret Jug and still showcases the replica trophy in the entranceway to his home.
“I took down two Hall of Famers that were Nos. 1 and 2 on the money list at the time,” he said. “That was the most rewarding thing for me.”
As painful as it may be, he said he plans to watch the tournament on TV and he already thinking about next year – just not at Sunningdale but rather at Gleneagles in Scotland.
“Trust me,” he said, “I won’t screw this up again.”