After the 10-foot putt rolled into the cup, Kirk Maynord raised his hands in celebration. He walked to the side of the green, hugged his caddie, a former priest, grabbed a towel and wept.
Maynord's putt two weeks ago secured the fifth and final U.S. Senior Open berth in a one-round qualifier in Fort Worth, Texas.
The former Oklahoma State golfer, who is in the Del City athletics Hall of Fame, will play in his first major professional event Thursday at Indianwood Golf & Country Club in Lake Orion, Mich.
At age 52.
“It takes my breath away,” Maynord said. “I know I'll feel pressure on No. 1. But I don't feel pressure to play well because regardless how I play, this is a dream come true.”
Having played golf since he was a kid who worked at Trosper Park, Maynord is playing some of the best golf of his life at an age some move up a tee box or two.
“I didn't think he'd be old enough,” quipped OSU athletic director Mike Holder, Maynord's college coach. “I still think of him as 18 years old. The sad part is if he's old enough to play in the Senior Open, I must really be old.”
Paired with Ron Gonzalez and Jay Don Blake, Maynord will play a few hours after legends Tom Watson, Fred Couples and Tom Kite.
“He's a great person,” said PGA and Champions Tour veteran Willie Wood. “He's grown as an individual. This is the beauty of any USGA Open event. That's why they have these spots all over the United States. This might be a steppingstone for Kirk.”
Holder and Wood, an exempt PGA Tour player for 13 years who has earned $160,000 with three top 15 finishes in six Champions Tour events this year, both said Maynord always had talent.
“My reflection on Kirk was a lot of potential unrealized like a lot of kids,” Holder said. “I think he always should have been a better player than he was. It's nice to see him have some success and get the opportunity to play in the Senior Open.”
Maynord said: “I've always been my own worst enemy on the individual level. My friends always have had confidence in me. They felt the only reason they don't watch me on TV is I sometimes lose focus. I usually get it back, but sometimes it's too late. This time it was like a light went on.”
This time Maynord shot a 69, good enough for a four-way tie for fifth. The playoff birdie allowed him to share a lifelong memory with his caddie Scott Adams, a former priest who is a Spanish teacher in Spiro.
“We talked on the way down to stay in the moment, don't let anything bother me, take it one swing at a time,” Maynord said. “I have a new attitude going. That's really helped me these past few weeks.”
Wood is one of Maynard's closest friends. They met 33 years ago, the summer before they became OSU teammates. Over the past three decades they've played more than 1,000 rounds together.
“He's really talented,” Wood said. “Over the years he's played in a lot of tournaments. I wish him all the luck and hope he plays well.”
After his career at OSU, Maynord was an assistant pro at Westwood and Twin Hills.
In his mid-30s, Maynord in the mid-1990s was sponsored and played in some events on the developmental Buy.com Tour. He also played on the Adams Tight Lies tour, the Longhorn Tour and the Prairie Tour.
U.S. Senior Open
Where: Indianwood Golf and Country Club, Lake Orion, Mich.
TV: ESPN2 (Cox 28), Thursday-Friday, 2-6 p.m.; KFOR-4 (Cox 4), Saturday-Sunday, 2-5 p.m.