Golf: Kishwaukee Country Club pro David Paeglow ready to compete in U.S. Senior Open

David Paeglow, head golf pro at Kishwaukee Country Club, putts on the 18th green Thursday, June 6, 2024, at the country club in DeKalb. Paeglow will be competing in the U.S. Senior Open later this month.

DeKALB – For seven years, David Paeglow has had his sights set on qualifying for the U.S. Senior Open.

Last year, he was an alternate but fell short of his goal.

That changed last month in Flossmoor when the pro at Kishwaukee Country Club carded a 2-under-par 70 and earned a trip to one of the majors on the Champions Tour.

“All the years I’ve been playing competitive golf, to make the major championship like this, it’s been a pretty big thrill,” Paeglow said. “The membership here has been behind me 100% too, which is really cool.”

Paeglow is preparing for the U.S. Senior Open, which is held June 27-30 at Newport Country Club in Rhode Island. Paeglow said it’s his first trip to the northeastern United States.

He’ll make the trip with his two sons, Brett and Jack – who were standout golfers for DeKalb. His caddy and his family also will make the trip. Paeglow said they’ve rented a house to try and create a little more sense of normalcy for when the tournament begins June 27.

“It’s probably better for the week instead of going to a hotel and having limited space and things like that,” Paeglow said. “You get to cook a meal or sit outside, and it’s big enough where we can all stay there and have some privacy, I hope.”

Paeglow said he’s hoping to make the cut and compete in the final two rounds as well June 29-30, not just the opening two.

Last year, only two amateur golfers made the cut at SentryWorld in Stevens Point, Wisconsin.

“I want to make the cut, and I feel pretty good about it,” Paeglow said. “You never know. Hopefully, I feel good when I get there.”

Paeglow was an alternate at last year’s event and made the trip to SentryWorld but did not compete. Bernhard Langer won the tournament, two strokes ahead of Steve Stricker and three ahead of Jerry Kelly.

Paeglow said the course in Newport is an open course right on the beach. Avoiding bunkers and driving strong off the tee are going to be the keys to success, he said.

“I’m going into it trying to do my same routine that I would do when I play in a tournament in Chicago or Illinois,” Paeglow said. “Practice the same as I usually do, which is not a lot. I’m going to have to stay focused. I’m going to have to put blinders on and not get caught up in the gallery, and there’s Ernie Els, there’s Steve Stricker. I have to look at it as a job. It’s a business trip. So play golf, have fun and enjoy the experience.”

Since he became eligible at age 50, Paeglow said he’s competed in a qualifier every year. He was familiar with the Flossmoor course and was confident heading in, tying with Flossmoor’s Peter Vrdolyak for the win and one of the two qualifying spots.

Paeglow birdied his second-to-last hole to help secure the win ahead of four other golfers who shot a 71. Although there was live scoring, Paeglow said he elected not to look and didn’t find out he qualified until after his round ended.

“They have online scoring, but I didn’t want to jinx myself,” Paeglow said. “I just want to play and do the best I can. I didn’t want to be influenced by ‘Oh, I better try this’ and not pull it off.”

The Rockford native has been at Kishwaukee for 36 years, 32 as the head pro. He said he’s not going to focus on the legendary golfers he’s competing against, or the large gallery, or the national TV audience.

He said the key will be treating it as another tournament.

“I just want to enjoy it with my two boys, and there’s a number of members that are flying out there to watch,” Paeglow said. “I just want to have a good time. I think I’ll play better if I’m enjoying it and not stressing about it.”

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