After Mark Calcavecchia hit his opening tee shot Friday at the Clubcorp Classic, he was asked how he felt.
“Like I’d done it 1,000 times before,” he said.
That's because he literally has. The ClubCorp Classic marked (pun intended) Calcavecchia's 1,000th start in a PGA Tour-sanctioned event. The 61-year-old became the 23rd player ever to achieve that feat, 40 years since he made his Tour debut.
There was a bump in the road for the Nebraska native en route to this landmark, though. Calcavecchia, a 13-time Tour winner and a four-time winner on the Champions tour, endured a bout with COVID-19 in August 2020 and then underwent back surgery on Jan. 4, 2021. He would return to the senior tour in September.
Amid all the starts for Calcavecchia, the one that stands out the most is his victory at the 1989 Open Championship at Troon — his lone major win.
When he turned 60, Calcavecchia decided he would make his Open swan song at Royal St. George's in 2020. But the championship would be canceled due to COVID-19. And last year, he was unable to tee it up at Royal St. George's as he was still recovering from back surgery. So now, with 1,000 starts to his name, he has penciled in his Open farewell at the major's 150th edition.
"I wrote a long letter (last) April when I knew I wouldn’t be able to play and I asked the Open committee to consider letting me play at St. Andrews, make it my last Open," Calcavecchia told PGATour.com earlier this week. "They got right back to me and said, ‘Let me bring it up to the championship committee.’ And not even a few weeks later, I got an email back. The decision by the 25 committee members was unanimous. ‘We’d love to have you play your last Open at St Andrews. We love to take care of our past champions.’
“My daughter and my son will be coming, and my wife, Brenda, of course. And my goal is to make the cut ... I really think I can make the cut. Either way, it’s going to be a blast.”