ROD SPITTLE WON THE AT&T Championship this past weekend the same way Bernhard Langer and Fred Couples win Champions Tour events. Spittle shot the lowest score, a 12-under total of 201 that tied him with multiple-winner Jeff Sluman. Then he dispatched Sluman on the first hole of a sudden-death playoff.
But, if you’re like me, you’re asking two things: 1) Who in the name of Allen Doyle is Rod Spittle? 2) And what on God’s green fairways is Spittle doing winning a Champions Tour event?
Spittle, 55, had no status on the Champions Tour, which meant he had to play in Monday qualifiers to try to grab one of the three or four available spots in the small fields loaded with former PGA Tour stars. They used to call Monday qualifiers “rabbits.” Spittle has been a rabbit for five years. He has made it into five tournaments this season.
Thanks to the unlikeliest of wins, Spittle now has a one-year exemption on the Champions Tour. He also received a check for $262,500.
A native of Ontario, Canada, and lifelong amateur who played collegiate golf for Ohio State, Spittle left a sales and marketing career in corporate insurance to turn professional at the age of 49. His wife also quit her job, the couple sold the house, and they hit the road to, well, not glory and riches.
The Spittles did have some financial backers, but it was still a risky proposition, a choice the two-time Canadian amateur champion figured he had hundred-guessed.
Spittle’s best year was 2007 when he won $325,000. Last season was a big fat goose egg.
“We just kept plugging away,” he said.
The stability of a regular income gone, the plan didn’t make much financial sense. That’s the nature of some dreams. Today, Spittle is glad he didn’t have the good sense to give up.
−The Armchair Golfer