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Southern Nevada amateur Steve Fink relishes chance to play in U.S. Senior Open

Updated June 28, 2017 - 8:34 pm

Southern Nevada Golf Association member Steve Fink will fulfill a dream when he tees off Thursday in the U.S. Senior Open at Salem Country Club in Peabody, Massachusetts.

Fink, 60, shot 72 at a regional qualifying event this month at Bear Creek Golf Club in Temecula, California, and finished as the first alternate. The former UCLA golfer secured his spot in the 151-player field when Steve Stricker and Dave Eichelberger withdrew last week.

Fink is the only Southern Nevada amateur to qualify, joining local pros Jeff Gallagher, Tommy Armour III, Jeff LeMaster and John Riegger.

“This alternate reality is unbelievable,” Fink said. “It’s a dream I’ve always had to be inside the ropes with some of the greatest players in the world, and these are some of the greatest legends ever.”

Fink’s fantasy week included a Tuesday practice round with pros Tom Kite and Billy Mayfair and amateur Chip Lutz.

“To play golf with Tom Kite was one incredible experience,” Fink said. “What a golf swing he has and what a gentleman. Mayfair blew me away with how far and how high he hit the ball.”

Fink gained confidence in the latter part of the round and during an afternoon practice session with former college teammates Corey Pavin and Tom Pernice Jr.

“I feel very good right now,” Fink said. “I don’t want to jinx myself, but I feel like I can play this course. I’m putting well, and that’s key, and I’m a pretty good chipper. My goals and expectations are just like they were for the qualifier. I’m going to grind out as many pars as I can and find a birdie here and there.”

Ladies champs

Diane Booth tied a personal best of 67 in the final round and won the championship division of the Women’s SNGA Southern Nevada Amateur at Bear’s Best Golf Club. Salini King won the net division.

Racing the sun

A unique charity event ended last Thursday in Las Vegas and raised $160,000 for Youth on Course, an organization that helps kids play courses around the country and Southern Nevada for $5 or less. Beginning at 2:50 a.m. PDT, a team of four golfers teed off and successfully played 72 holes in four states in one day. The four played Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Kentucky; Prairie Dunes in Hutchinson, Kansas; and Ballyneal in Holyoke, Colorado; before ending at Shadow Creek.

Age is just a number

Dwight Henry shot his age of 71 last week at Conestoga Golf Club in Mesquite, the first time he has accomplished the feat. “It would have been easier if I was older,” he said.

Deal of the week

Stay cool with night golf at TaylorMade Golf Experience from 4 to 10 p.m. and get nine holes with cart, range balls and two free drinks in the Flight Deck Bar and Grill for $25.

A royal preview

Golfers can play a replica of the 10th hole at Royal Birkdale on Saturday in the SNGA Social Series Preview Open at Royal Links Golf Club. Royal Birkdale in England hosts the Open Championship from July 20-23. Call 458-4653 for reservations.

Stars on, off course

— Former UNLV All-American Chris Riley has been named the golf coach at the University of San Diego. He had served as a volunteer assistant at UNLV.

— Former Rebel Charley Hoffman is red hot on the PGA Tour. He finished eighth in the U.S. Open and third in the Travelers Championship, and ranks 16th in the President’s Cup standings.

The golf notebook appears on Thursdays. Freelance writer Brian Hurlburt is a two-time author who has covered golf in Las Vegas for more than two decades. He can be reached at bhurlburt5@gmail.com or @LVGolfInsider on Twitter.

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