Columbus, OH — Phillip Golding won the 2003 Open de France by a single shot over David Howell but that, as well as his playing at the U.S. Senior Open Championship almost never happened.
“In 2002 I went to Italy and had to finish top-10 to get my card and I missed by one or two places,” Golding said. “I thought that was it. Then I got talked into going to tour school and we finished third. It just shows that you’ve got to believe in yourself and not to give up so winning the French was a magnificent achievement. If there was one tournament besides a major on tour that I wanted to win, that was the one to win.”
Golf was not even Golding’s first love though, that was cricket. Golding played cricket for the Middlesex Colts until he was 17.
“I started playing cricket when I was young maybe 8-10,” he said. “I was lucky to be quite decent in most sports. I started golf when I was 18 which is late for a professional. I still have a passion for cricket, I still watch my son play. I don’t play anymore but l love watching it.”
It was Golding’s father who taught him cricket and certain elements particularly appealed to the Bushy, England native.
“It’s the camaraderie of the team,” he said. “With golf I wish I had a team around me, it’s a lonely place when you’re playing poorly. You have your caddie and that’s it.”
Golding likened the sport to baseball.
“You try to get the guy out and catch or run him out,” Golding said. “It’s a nice sport to play. You could play for five days and get a draw or you could have 20-20 overs. When you’re watching it, you can sit down and read the newspaper at the same time. You can relax and have a beer, it’s a wonderful sport.”
When Golding made the switch to golf he went to teaching so he could play more.
His playing career has been filled with the idea of not quite playing well enough to retain his European Tour card and made 19 appearances in the tour’s qualifying school.
In 2003 when he won the Open de France he not only validated his decision to stay in the game but also
“That was a wonderful time,” said Golding. “I went on a magnificent course and one of the oldest tournaments in European golf. I was 40 when I won that so everyone had written me off. I had a one shot lead on that last day and I managed to hold the lead. As a result of that I got to play at Akron in the World Golf Championships and earned ranking points.”
Golding joined the European Senior Tour in 2012 with his best finish being a second at the Speedy Services Wales Senior Open and the SSE Scottish Senior Open.
A year later Golding won the Speedy Services Wales Senior Open. In 2014 Golding added a French Riviera Masters title to his name.
This is Golding’s third career U.S. Senior Open after placing 60th in 2014 and 47th in 2015. He got into this year’s event by placing in the top six on the Senior PGA European Tour money list.
For a brief period of time, Golding led first round play at the U.S. Senior Open after holing out for eagle on the par-4 1st hole.
He hit a 9-iron 150 yards and the ball bounced twice from the right and into the hole.
The rest of his round was not as successful as he is currently tied for 95th place at +7 and four shots behind the current cut-line.
Golding has said he does not like missing cuts and it comes as no surprise given the fact that he has been competitive all of his life.
The competitive streak has come because of his love for sports, particularly golf and cricket. Now, Golding still loves both sports but golf has given him a longer and more active playing career.
“When I was young I would hope someone would pull out the team so I could get a game in,” he said. “I grew up around the game. I could play three times in a weekend and I played for school. I got quite good and it was an opportunity to go professional as a golfer and here we are a long time later. At least with golf I’m playing, I would have been retired a long time ago with cricket.”