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.
Maynord, though, got out of the golf business 15 years ago.
He became a self-made “middle man” that purchases computer equipment in bulk and redirects it to organizations that can benefit from quality used machines. The highly productive business, Solid Technologies, Inc., has allowed Maynord to play a lot of golf.
Maynord owns two course records. He set a retired John Conrad record with an 8-under in the 1980s before the course was altered. A few years ago on a business trip to Maine, he carded an 8-under 63 at Breakfast Hill in Seacoast, N.H.
“Someone overheard us talking and went to the pro shop,” Maynord said. “The pro comes in to where we're sitting. He said, ‘Did I hear someone shot 63?' I said, ‘Yeah, I did. No big deal.' He said, ‘Dude, no big deal? You just broke the course record by two shots.'”
Maynord regularly plays in the Oklahoma Open. He finished fifth in 2008. He said his biggest win probably was the 2009 Cherokee Strip in Ponca City.
“Mike Holder has won it. Bob Tway has won it. Jeff McMillian has won it,” Maynord said. “It's a good tournament, like a pro-am. Including my team I think I won $5,000 that year.”
Over the years he's made money teaming with Freddie Wisdom and Terry O'Toole on the “barbecue tour,” playing two-man scrambles on courses in cities such as Purcell, Ponca City, Lindsay, Woodward and Sulphur.
“I pay for my little hobby,” Maynard said. “I've paid more than I've spent. I make a lot of birdies. I'm a pretty good partner. I hit some good wedges and make a lot of putts.”
His biggest wedge and biggest putt of his life were two weeks ago.
On the first playoff hole, Maynord was closest to the pin. After watching the other three players miss their birdie putts, Maynord calmly sank a putt he'll never forget.
“I initially read my putt to go left, but after watching them, I could tell my putt was straight,” Maynord said. “I went into my routine, looked at the hole and hit it nice and soft and rolled it in the middle. What a great feeling!”
There was another factor. His son, Dustin, and his wife recently gave Kirk his first grandchild, Lelu, born three days before his big day in Fort Worth. His granddaughter has brought good fortune.
“Absolutely,” Maynord said. “She was definitely on my mind.”
Wood advised Maynord not to view this week's tournament as a “once-in-a-lifetime” opportunity.
“The reason I said that was, who's to say he won't qualify next year and the year after that?” Wood said. “I told him to try not to get overexcited so he can perform well. He was so juiced up after he qualified he was almost hyperventilating.”
The boy who played countless rounds at Trosper, John Conrad and Lincoln Park, the All-State golfer whose picture has remained a fixture at Del City Fieldhouse since 1978, is playing in the 2012 U.S. Senior Open.
“I've been trying to get into an USGA event for 35 years,” Maynord said. “I can't tell you how much money I've sent to the USGA for U.S. amateur qualifying, for U.S. Open qualifying. I've gotten close a few times, getting past the first stage. But I never made one. Until now.
“This is such a thrill. I'll come home with my head high whether I finish last or first.”
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.