By Matt Hombach
2007 Constellation Energy Senior Players king Loren Roberts is one of the guys on the Champions Tour that “gets it.” He understands the 50-and-over tour is the ultimate retirement program for golfers. They get to fuel their competitive fire, win oversized checks for huge sums of money and enjoy the camaraderie of their fellow competitors -- unlike their counterparts on the PGA Tour.
|Loren Roberts fired four rounds in the 60s for a 13-under-par total to win the 2007 Constellation Energy Senior Players championship.
"On the Champions Tour, we still try to beat each other as hard as we can,” Roberts said. "But instead of talking to a psychologist and working out with a trainer and all of that, we go in and have a beer in the clubhouse afterward.”
Roberts succeeded in besting the competition at Five Farms when he fired four rounds in the 60s for a 13-under-par total to win last year’s event. The victory propelled him to the Charles Schwab Cup given to the top Champions Tour pro each year.
While Roberts has had a successful pro career, it's interesting to note that he started golf relatively late in life compared to other top players. Roberts didn’t start playing until his late teens and struggled to break 90 most days. He headed to Cal Poly and made the team, but the unit was disbanded and Roberts was left with few competitive venues to test his game.
After college, he got a job as a teaching pro for five years at a small club in California to earn some money and work on his game.
"I had a great club job in that nobody ever played after 2:00 in the afternoon,” he said. “The putting green was literally 20 yards out the pro shop door. So I'd open the window so I could hear the phone and I'd go out there and chip and putt all afternoon.”
Roberts’ practice sessions improved his game up to the point where he was ready to try to make the quantum leap from club pro to touring pro.
"I went to qualifying school, and made it through, got on the tour and here I am,” Roberts said.
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At the Constellation Energy Championship media day a few weeks ago, Roberts was asked to recount how he got his famous nickname, “The Boss of the Moss,” for his prowess on the putting green.
“At the 1994 U.S. Open at Oakmont, I ended up losing in a playoff to Ernie Els and Colin Montgomerie, but I remember Saturday I shot 64,” he said. “I holed every putt I looked at, practically. I got into the locker room and happened to be sitting there with a couple of media guys, doing an interview. A buddy of mine walked by, and he was always good with the quip. He just kind of yelled it out, 'The Boss of the Moss.' One of the guys put it in the article and it stuck.
“I’m fortunate it's a good nickname because you can really get some bad ones out on tour.”
Roberts lived up to his nickname at Five Farms in 2007. The native Californian played all 72 holes without a three-putt. When asked how he accomplished the impressive feat, Roberts said it was part luck, but mostly course management.
"I made a couple of great two-putts, obviously,” he said, “but I did look at the golf course and say, you know, five feet off the edge of the green here is better than 10 feet above the hole over here.
"I just looked at the golf course and figured out where I needed to hit the ball, and it didn't necessarily mean having to be on the green. That’s part of the defense of this golf course. If you get out of position on a green, you have a pretty good chance of three-putting, unless you're very, very careful.”
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Roberts had a tough defense of his own in trying to hold on to the Constellation title for two years in a row. A star-studded field of the best golfers in the world over the age of 50 are giving it all they have this week at Baltimore Country Club to etch their name on a major trophy come Sunday.
As Greg Norman showed in this year’s British Open, Champions Tour golfers can play with anyone, including the best on the PGA and European Tours.
“There are so many guys that are staying competitive until they're 50 on the regular tour that that goes a long way in keeping you at the top of your game,” Roberts said. “It's getting more competitive every year.”
Tickets can still be purchased at the gate for the tournament. Good any one-day grounds passes are $27.
Public parking and shuttle bus transportation to the course are available at the corner of Shawan Road and Beaver Dam Road in Hunt Valley.
For more information, visit www.cecseniorplayers.com or call 410-470-3033.
Issue 3.41: October 9, 2008