Magee back in the swing of things at Senior PGA

Andrew Magee during the the 2005 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.

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BENTON HARBOR, Mich. — It didn’t take long for Andrew Magee to get reacquainted with life on tour.

The four-time winner on the PGA Tour made his debut as a senior this week at Harbor Shores in the 73rd Senior PGA Championship, just two days after turning 50, and after all the niceties, Magee found himself late Friday afternoon sweating out another cutline.

“The guys out here have been super, super nice,” said Magee after a second-round 74 that put him at 5 over after two days, a position that wobbled on both sides of the cutline as the day wore on. “I just turned 50 on Tuesday, and I’ve just had a lot of well-wishers and seen a lot of friendly faces. I’m not sure I’m believing they’re sincere because I really don’t fall on the sincere side of anything with my sarcasm.”

It’s been a long time since Magee drove to the golf course as a serious contender in an event.

In 2005, his last full season playing the PGA Tour, he opened the season with top-10 finishes in each of the year’s first two full-field events. But those were the last he’s had. What followed was 11 starts throughout the remainder of the ’05 season with only one finish in the top 30.

He’s made only the occasional start on the PGA Tour since then — eight in a five-year span — but, in fact, there was another rather-important reason for his absence, namely, surgery for kidney cancer in 2006. And not even that diminished Magee’s legendary sense of humor.

“I made 350 cuts on the PGA Tour and missed 250,” Magee said in a story for the Senior PGA’s official program. “I thought I got the cancer from missing cuts.”

Magee’s plans are to go full steam ahead.

“I’m in good shape and with all the forced weeks in between tournaments, it’s easier to play all the events,” he said. “I think there’s 13 tournaments the rest of this year and I plan to play in every one. I’m back to playing professional golf.”

His play over the first two days of the Senior PGA produced a little bit of everything — some good (an improvement of six fairways and four greens over what he hit in Round 1), some bad (three three-putts on Friday), some shots he liked, some that weren’t quite what he had hoped for.

“I’ve hit a lot of good shots this week. I’m surprised how well I’ve hit the ball,” he said. “I haven’t putted great, but I’ve made a lot of nice saves. . . . You just have to get more comfortable with situations. I made some bogeys coming down the stretch, but I was probably a little nervous and wanted to hit a good shot; probably tried to do too much with it.”

The Champions Tour is littered with players who had moderate success on the PGA Tour and then flourished once they turned 50. Exactly half of the top 10 Champions Tour leaders in career earnings won fewer times on the PGA Tour than did Magee, including two who never won at all.

“I’ve seen a lot of that,” Magee said, “but that doesn’t affect the way I’m thinking. . . . It does give you a little hope that it can happen to anybody, that anyone can catch fire. I just want to get out of my own way and play some golf like I know I’m capable of.”

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