On Tuesday, Tim Petrovic was surfing with his kids in Michigan. By late Thursday afternoon, he was leading the RBC Canadian Open.
You can be forgiven if both those statements seem a little strange. After all, who goes surfing in Michigan? And who leads the Canadian Open without the benefit of a practice round?
Petrovic did just that, putting together a silky round of 64 that tied him for top spot along with Michael Putnam. His round marked the first time he'd played Royal Montreal's Blue Course and not a bad maiden run.
The 47-year-old was sitting on the beach in South Haven, Michigan on Tuesday when his phone rang to tell him he was in the field at the Open, having risen up the alternate list from eighth. Benjamin Alvarado had withdrawn and he was in. So he jumped on a plane Wednesday morning, walked around the back nine on Wednesday afternoon, and teed it up Thursday.
“I kind of think it freed me up because I wasn't sure, especially on the front nine,” Petrovic said. “We started on one and I hadn't seen the front nine yet. So you don't look ahead, obviously, and I wasn't really looking ahead on the back. I was playing well, but I just [told myself] keep going through your routine, I was trying to stay in my routine: Hit golf shots, hit driver and get it on the green.”
Petrovic opened with a par and then rattled off three birdies and added one more for 31 going out. His back nine was eight pars and an eagle on the par-5 12th hole after two great shots left him a relatively short putt.
After playing many years with exempt status, Petrovic's schedule has been somewhat unpredictable of late. He's split his time between the PGA Tour and the Web.com Tour. Three weeks ago, he was in Halifax for the Nova Scotia Open where he tied for 38th. On the PGA Tour, he hasn't made a cut since March, missing the mark in his last five starts.
“It's a little tough. It's a little tough,” Petrovic admitted of trying to plan out an itinerary. “I think I was spoiled for my first 10 years. You make your own schedule, you know where you're going. I think this year I pretty much split between the Web and the PGA Tour.”
While he has no doubt given his luggage and passport a good workout, he's also managed to put together a solid career with earnings of about $12 million. That's much better than his one-time job as a pizza delivery man. Petrovic also spent some time playing on the old Canadian Tour, now PGA Tour Canada, back when there was a bit of barnstorming happening.
“The last time I was up here was probably in 1990, maybe,” he tried to remember. “We played the Canadian Tour, and I think Todd Hamilton was playing up here, Guy Boros. In fact, we were in Halifax two weeks ago, and the last time I was up there was before they built the bridge to get out to PEI, because I think we were playing a golf tournament at PEI. I think it was called Brudenell? Does that sound right?”
It does indeed. And it also sounds, well, almost ancient. Of course Petrovic isn't exactly a kid. He isn't too far off being able to join the Champions Tour. While most of the young players on the PGA Tour will mention Tiger Woods and Jay Z among their favourites, he lists Seve Ballesteros and Jim Morrison of the Doors as his heroes.
As for surfing in Michigan, Petrovic admitted that the waves are pretty small and it isn't exactly the Gold Coast of Australia. But you make do with what you have, which is exactly what he's doing right now at Royal Montreal.