Two Southern Illinois University alumni competing in U.S. Open and U.S. Senior Open
Luke Gannon and Britt Pavelonis representing SIU golf on the biggest stages
CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. (KFVS) - Luke Gannon is playing in his first major championship on the PGA Tour: the U.S. Open. Britt Pavelonis will be competing in the U.S. Senior Open next week. Both are Saluki alumni representing their alma mater on the big stage.
In Round One at The Country Club in Brookline, Mass., Gannon finished at 6-over par. It was a tale of two halves.
Starting at the 10th Gannon shot three bogeys and two double bogeys through his first eight holes. At the turn, his scorecard read 7-over par. However, a clean sweep on the front nine along with a chip-in birdie on hole four flipped the script for his day.
Gannon tees off Round Two at 2:42 p.m. on Friday, this time starting at Hole One.
Fellow Southern Illinois University alumni Britt Pavelonis begins the U.S. Senior Open from Saucon Valley Country Club in Bethlehem, Pa. on June 23.
“Oh by far it’s the biggest (tournament I’ve been in),” said Pavelonis. “It’s like the national championship for us old guys. I’ve been all around, so it’s cool to finally make a big tournament and see where my game stacks up to.”
A fundraiser was held for Pavelonis on Thursday at Dalhousie Golf Club.
“I’ve been a member here at Dalhousie for 14 years,” Pavelonis said. “They’ve taken me under their wing. If I need something, they’ll give it to me.”
Multiple golfers from the area attended the event to support.
“It’s just a great opportunity to support somebody local that’s chasing their dream,” said Brett Pinnon, a member at Kimbeland Country Club. “Anything we can do to help out I thought would be a pretty cool opportunity for us as well.”
“Britt’s a southern Illinois guy,” said Jimmy Karayiannis. “Everybody in our group is from southern Illinois. He’s homegrown for us, and he’s also a member here at Dalhousie and a vital part of what we do. All but makes sense to come out to support both causes: local hometown guy and a great Dalhousie ambassador.”
The Dalhousie staff were happy to host.
“Britt is a great guy. Always very gracious to the members and now the members have got a chance to give back to him,” said Dalhousie Golf Pro Jack Connell. “It’s just a great deal. We’re gonna get to hang around and go, ‘Hey we know him! He’s awesome!”
Pavelonis was gracious.
“All these guys didn’t have to come out today and help me out. They chose to do that with their time. I appreciate that very much...Today is special.”
Made even more so by one guest: Pavelonis’ father.
“This is what he’s been wanting to do,” said Bob Pavelonis. “I just hope he’s not as nervous as I am. The closer he gets to the tournament, the more nervous I get. I couldn’t play because of the nerves. I just hope he can.”
The first thing Britt Pavelonis did when he qualified was call his dad. They shared the moment together, and Bob will be in Bethlehem next week, along with other members of the Pavelonis family, cheering Britt on.
It will be the highlight of Britt’s career.
“Nothing’s gonna stack up to this adventure I’m about to go on.”
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