Nelson headed to U.S. Senior Open

Kirk Nelson of Kihei has received a berth in next week’s U.S. Senior Open, claiming a spot from his position as an alternate qualifier after Allen Doyle withdrew Wednesday.

“I thought my buddies were pranking me, but then I got an email from the USGA, and I saw it was real,” said the 53-year-old Nelson, a professional at Elleair Maui Golf Club.

Nelson was a first alternate after losing on the second hole of a playoff with Kevin Hayashi of the Big Island during a qualifier at Honolulu Country Club on June 18.

“After the qualifier, I thought, ‘Well, I tied for medalist, and at least the medalist, tying gets a silver medal, and that was pretty cool,” Nelson said. “This is just a great bonus, so unexpected.”

The tournament is scheduled for July 11-14 at Omaha Country Club in Nebraska.

“I’m already trying to get into that (competition) mode,” Nelson said. “I guarantee that I’m going to try not to be a tourist. I’m going to be hitting balls next to guys I’ve been watching on TV. I have to greet them with aloha, and not say, ‘Oh, can I have your autograph?’ “

Nelson teamed with Justin Newsome to finish fourth in last month’s Kaanapali Pro-Pro Championship, an Aloha PGA event. Nelson was also the senior flight champion at the Maui Open in August, and the medalist in a local qualifier for the U.S. Open a year ago.

The USGA said on its website that Doyle, who won the Senior Open in 2005 and 2006, withdrew because of a medical condition.