PEABODY, Mass. (AP) — A water polo player-turned-swimsuit model who didn’t pick up a golf club for decades, Kurt Van Hees told himself during a near-death experience, “If I get out of this alive, all I’m going to do is play golf.”
On Thursday, he will tee off in the U.S. Senior Open.
The 51-year-old Californian was added to the field as an alternate Sunday and hopped on a red eye to Boston that night, fighting off the migraines and stiffness he still feels from a 2010 attack that left him unable to play more than four holes at a time.
“I just always felt like if I tried hard enough, I might be able to get to somewhere like this tournament,” Van Hees said Wednesday before his practice round at Donald Ross-designed Salem Country Club. “It’s amazing, the guys that I’m seeing that I’m playing with and stuff just blows my mind. So it’s been a pretty cool thing.”
After taking up golf when he was 6, playing only when the weather was warm enough in Oregon, Van Hees won a few junior tournaments and was approaching a scratch handicap by high school. But he was also a nationally ranked swimmer as a…