Why the Cinderella story of Rob Labritz at 2022 U.S. Senior Open is the best thing in golf right now

The Cinderella story of Rob Labritz keeps getting better and better.

Labritz, a 51-year-old longtime club pro who qualified for the PGA Tour Champions this season in December, shot his third consecutive 2-under 69 on Saturday at Saucon Valley Country Club in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, and trails only leader Padraig Harrington entering the final round of the 42nd U.S. Senior Open.

“I’m in the greatest spot I’ve ever wanted to be in,” he told NBC after the round. “I’m living the dream and there’s marks up and down my leg from pinching myself.”

This is just his second USGA event and first since 1988, and Labritz, who has been a club pro since age 19, wearing an assortment of hats in his day job that left little time to concentrate on his own game, is soaking it all in.

“I’ve got to be honest, the adrenaline rush on the 1st tee and the last putt were nothing like I ever felt before in my life,” said the father of three who brought 17-month-old daughter Logan to his post-round press conference. “I had to back off the putt. I had Baby Shark stuck in my head. There was a lot going on. I just had to get the putt in the hole.”

No matter what happens in the final round – he is five strokes behind three-time major winner  Harrington and former U.S. Senior Open champion Gene Sauers – Labritz is soaking it all in as few have done before him.

“It’s so cool. I want to make sure I take mental notes, and now that we have iPhones, I can take actually videos,” said Labritz, who broke out his phone and recorded the scene. “The fans saw me take the phone out and they got behind it, which was kind of cool. I wasn’t expecting that, but it was pretty cool.”

At a time when the professional golf world seems to be spinning off its axis and has become more about playing for outrageous sums of money than love of the game, Labritz has been a breath of fresh air.

Labritz, who served as director of golf at GlenArbor in Bedford Hills, New York, prior to medaling at Q-School in December, carded birdies on Nos. 15 and 16 to reach his 6-under total and is the lone player in the field to post a trio of rounds in the 60s.

“I’m not worried about it,” Labritz said of his final-round deficit. “I’m going to go out there and play my game, shoot under par, and wherever the chips fall, they fall. There are guys out here that have been doing this for 30 years. If they play better than me, so be it. I’m learning. I’m getting better. I’m improving. I feel like I’m so close.”

Labritz has recorded one top-five finish and three top-25 finishes in 11 PGA Tour Champions starts, and entered the week No. 48 on the money list with earnings of $168,353.

He will play in the final round alongside four-time major champion Ernie Els. To Labritz, he won’t be the one burdened with pressure as he already has exceeded his expectation for the week, win or lose.

“Man, it just means that all the work that I’ve been doing for the past however many years is paying off. I feel comfortable out there. I know I’m supposed to be here,” he said. “Even when I was at my greatest club job on the planet, Glen Arbor, I still felt like there’s something missing, and I don’t feel that way anymore. So I’m a blessed man.”

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