Before heading to the 2022 KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship, Tracy Phillips got to experience the PGA Championship inside the ropes, in his hometown, after all.

Over a month since a heartbreaking miss in the PGA Professional Championship left him outside the Team of 20 PGA Club Professionals earning a berth in the PGA Championship – fate turned for Phillips.

The 59-year-old PGA Director of Instruction at Cedar Ridge Country Club in nearby Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, got a call Friday night while attending his daughter’s high school graduation. Southern Hills Country Club Director of Golf Cary Cozby was on the other end of the line, asking if Phillips would serve as a playing marker for Brian Harman, who was first off in Saturday’s third round and would have played by himself otherwise.

It was a special call, considering the longtime friendship between Cozby and Phillips and their respective PGA family heritage.

Their fathers, Buddy Phillips and Jerry Cozby, were local PGA legends and served more than 80 years combined as professionals at Cedar Ridge Country Club and Hillcrest Country Club, respectively. They both passed away within two days of each other in August of 2020.

“Our pops are looking down upon us,’ ” Cozby said to Phillips, who recalled the moment a day later with emotion.

“It was great, and Brian (Harman) was great to play with,” said Phillips. “He is about my stature (5-foot-7, two inches taller than Phillips) but still hit it about 40 to 50 yards by me.”

Phillips said he shot a 5-over-par 75 in the 57-degree morning, stringing three birdies among a couple pesky double bogeys.

“But, I am comfortable where my game is. I like to get on a golf course around 7,000 yards and it will suit my game a bit better,” he said

Though the temperatures stayed cool and the wind howled up to 35-mile per hour gusts, Phillips – the 1980 Junior PGA Champion – was striding and enjoying the moment.

“I had some good hometown support and a lot of people were cheering me, which was awesome,” he said.

To make his first special appearance in a PGA Championship that more meaningful, Phillips called longtime friend Dan Griffin, who is a full-time cattle rancher in Skiatook, Oklahoma, and a professional caddie.

Griffin, 73, had caddied the previous two days for Iowan Sean McCarty, who missed the 36-hole cut. It was the sixth combined men’s and women’s major that Griffin has been on a bag. He worked for Lee Trevino in the 1970 PGA Championship, and for Donna Caponi when she won the ‘70 U.S. Women’s Open in Muskogee, Oklahoma.

“I have been caddying since 1959,'' said Griffin. “I love it and the game. It was fun to be with Tracy again. I sent him a message after the PGA Professional Championship, that I was sorry he didn’t get to the PGA. This day was special for him, I know.”

Phillips left Sunday morning to compete in his third KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship and second visit to Harbor Shores in Benton Harbor, Michigan. He said that the Jack Nicklaus Signature layout there will be more the yardage to which he is accustomed.

“I played it in 2014 but the greens make it tricky in how sloping they are,” he said. ‘It challenges your short game and imagination to be able to hit good shots. I am looking forward to it.”

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