Nelson part of field for Senior PGA

Kirk Nelson continues to play his way into major championships – to the point where, while certainly proud to have made the field, he’s by no means just happy to be there.

“I’ve been convincing myself that maybe this is not a fluke,” the 54-year-old Kihei resident said Friday from Chicago as he prepared for the Senior PGA Championship, which gets underway Thursday at Harbor Shores in Benton Harbor, Mich.

Nelson, a professional at Elleair Maui Golf Club in Kihei, played in last year’s U.S. Senior Open, missing the cut.

“It’s not quite as overwhelming,” Nelson said of his latest trip. “It’s a little bit of a confidence thing.”

Nelson had a four-round total of 2-over-par 290 to tie for 23rd place in last month’s Senior PGA Professional national championship at PGA Villas in Port St. Lucie, Fla. – the top 35 finishers in the field of 264 earned spots in next week’s tournament. Florida’s Gene Fieger won the event with a 275.

“Well, I have to keep practicing – I have to at least figure out how to get 15 shots better than the guy who won,” Nelson said with a laugh.

Nelson will also compete in next month’s PGA Professional National Championship at The Dunes Golf & Beach Club in Myrtle Beach, S.C. He played in this year’s Sony Open at Waialae Golf Course on Oahu, and missed the cut.

Harbor Shores is a par-71 course measuring 6,852 yards.

“Looking at the first six holes, I was saying, ‘I think I’m 6 over looking at the pictures for the first four holes,’ ” Nelson said. “If I can shoot par, like I did in Florida, I think I’ll be OK. Par is a good score. You can’t beat yourself up. Florida pretty much showed me – some of those easy tap-in pars, that’s just fine.”