EDMOND — Bill Breen was riding the bus to work Wednesday morning when he got the call.
You’ve got a spot in the U.S. Senior Open.
One problem: he was scheduled to tee off in 25 hours.
One more problem: he was in Nashville.
But Thursday afternoon, Breen stood outside the clubhouse at Oak Tree National after a whirlwind of rescheduling and packing and traveling and golfing. Playing in a U.S. Open for the first time was bound to be memorable, but this was more than that.
“It really has been entertaining,” Breen said, smiling.
It started with that phone call Wednesday morning. Breen played in one of the senior open’s sectional qualifiers but didn’t earn one of the two spots in this week’s tournament. He finished as the first alternate, and because of the way the system works, he wasn’t likely to get into the field unless one of the golfers who’d qualified from his sectional withdrew.
The past couple weeks, Breen had friends in Tennessee who told him that he should go to Oklahoma just in case the unlikely happened.
“Man, I’m busy,” he told them.
Breen works days as a criminal court clerk, then teaches golf lessons in the evening.
“I just can’t go,” he told his friends. “If they call me last minute, boom, I’ll be out there last minute.”
He never thought he’d actually have to make good on that promise.
He never imagined just how last minute the call would come, either. Alternates make the field all the time. One was even added Thursday when Jay Haas withdrew because of a back injury, but that alternate was already in Edmond.
Breen had a little farther to go.
After getting off the bus Wednesday morning, he went and told his bosses at the courthouse that he had a spot in the U.S. Senior Open.
“Go,” they told him.
Breen called a good friend who he asked to caddie for him, then he called his kids and his mom with the good news. His mom came to the courthouse, picked him up and drove him back to his condo. An hour of manic packing followed.
Breen was on a flight out of Nashville at 11:15 a.m., less than four hours after he got the call.
“That is pretty good, isn’t it?” Breen said, smiling.
He touched down in Oklahoma City at 3 p.m., and he was on the course at Oak Tree by 5 p.m. Breen got in nine holes but didn’t have a chance to play the back nine.
Thursday, Breen happened to start on the back nine, so when he teed off in his first ever Open, it was on a hole that he’d never played.
“And playing with two well-known tour pros,” he said of playing partners John Cook and Gary Koch. “Just coming in here cold with these guys ... ”
It was nerve wracking?
It was gut wrenching?
“ ... it was such a thrill.”
As you might guess, Thursday was tough for Breen. He struggled to put the ball in the fairway, finished 9-over and facing a huge uphill battle to make the cut Friday.
But he saw the day as a success.
“All in all, I’m very pleased,” he said. “This is a lifetime opportunity, and I hung in there. I told myself, ‘I’m gonna smile.’”
And that’s what he did.
“It was a whirlwind the last 36 hours,” he said. “Still smilin’.”
Jenni Carlson: Jenni can be reached at 475-4125. Like her at facebook.com/JenniCarlsonOK, follow her at twitter.com/jennicarlson_ok or view her personality page at newsok.com/jennicarlson.