A Little R & R

A Little R & R

june5_299x263_0.jpg
Roberts brought his wife and two daughters to Florida for the week, and it turned into the family's best vacation ever
David Walberg

Relaxing is how Loren Roberts
described his week on Florida’s Panhandle
Coast. “Good, wholesome fun,”
chimed in his wife, Kimberly. Their
20-year-old daughter, Alexandria, a student
at the University of Alabama, said,
“It’s great when they have a tournament at the beach.” Their
other daughter, 15-year-old Addison, said, “I’ve never seen
Dad win in person before!”

So the Roberts family didn’t
know what to make of it last Sunday evening when a silvercolored
Chevy Tahoe raced up beside their white Toyota
minivan as they motored west on Highway 89 toward the
Pensacola airport. The man in the passenger seat of the
Chevy caught the eye of Kimberly, who was driving. He
waved frantically and then held up a big crystal trophy. It
took a moment to sink in: Trophy. Tournament. Loren on the
18th green holding a big crystal cup over his head. Big cardboard
check for $247,500 at his feet.

Welcome to National
Lampoon’s Vacation — or as they call it down Destin way,
the Boeing Championship at
Sandestin. Roberts struck a blow
for all dads-on-holiday on Sunday
by shooting a final-round
65 over a windblown Raven Golf
Club at the Sandestin Golf and
Beach Resort. That was more
than good enough to beat a
Champions tour field of working
stiffs, most of whom can’t
remember the last time they
drove a car down a sun-baked
highway with the missus questioning
the route and pigtailed
Jennifer screaming, “Bobby’s
staring at me again!”

It was a real Lampoon
move, though, to drive off
without the crystal. Tournament
media coordinator Scott
McKinney caught up with
Roberts six miles from the
course and held a second trophy
ceremony in the parking
lot of a Publix supermarket.
“Loren had the best line,”
McKinney said afterward.
“He said, ‘I get to keep it?'”

Roberts, to be fair, usually
leaves the family at home.
He’s almost 52 years old, and
like most pros his age he’s trying
to keep the competitive
flame burning. He sums up
his eight-wins-but-no-majors
PGA Tour career with a philosophical
shrug, saying, “I was
a nice player, but it took me
13 years to finally figure out
how to win.” Once he learned,
though, he went to town. His
first senior win, the 2005 Jeld-
Wen Tradition, was a major.
Last year he pushed Jay Haas
for player-of-the-year honors
by winning four more times,
most impressively at the Senior
British Open — another
major — at Turnberry, Scotland,
where Roberts defeated
Argentina’s Eduardo Romero
on the first hole of a playoff.

At Sandestin it was
Romero again who put up
the stoutest fight, although
for eight holes on Sunday you
would have put your money
on second-round leader Haas
(the only senior with two
wins in 2007) or on firstround
coleader Tom Purtzer,
who along with Romero shot
a course-record-tying nineunder-
par 62 last Friday. The
6,904-yard Robert Trent
Jones Jr. layout, Purtzer had
said, is “pretty defenseless”
when there is no wind, as
was the case on Friday. On
Sunday, however, both Haas
and Purtzer unraveled on the
9th hole — Haas with a double
bogey that knocked him
out of the lead for good,
Purtzer with a bogey that
killed his momentum.

Roberts, playing in the
second-to-last group, made
birdie at 10 to take the lead
at 14 under. He did not know
this, however, because he was
on vacation. “I made it a point
to not look at any leader
boards,” he said, sounding like
a stockbroker who turns off
his BlackBerry while weekending
in the Hamptons.

Later Roberts was grinning,
but his expression
turned to mock dismay when
a reporter asked him if he was
going to take his family to
future tournaments. Said
Roberts, “You kidding? I want
my kids in school, studying.”

You could almost hear the
girls say, “Aw, Dad.”