East Tennessee golfing duo qualify for U.S. Senior Open

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT)-- The Warren Golf Club at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend
Indiana is home to next week's U.S. Senior Open Golf Championship..
a tournament which will definitely have an East Tennessee flair to it.

Yes, it's a dream come true! Two times over! It's one thing to have one person qualify for a Major Golf event, but to have two from East Tennessee competing in the same event, we'll, that's really special and that's exactly what's happening to Ray Morton and Todd Burgan with both men qualifying as amateurs for the U.S. Senior Open. Both men were overwhelmed with Morton saying, "the Official came over and gave me the envelope and said you're holding the invitation to the U.S. Senior Open, it's big!" As for when he found out Todd says, " It was kind of a shock , took a couple days to set in that I'm gonna be playing in front of all those people and on television and all the stuff that goes around that."

Both 50 years of age, Ray hails from Lenoir City and Todd from Knoxville having grown up in Lafollette, but they've known each other for the better part of 25 years and are proud to be going on this adventure together! Says Todd, " Oh it's great, I think there are maybe 20 amateurs that qualified for the Senior Open this year, somewhere in that range the fact two of us from the Knoxville area are that is pretty neat."

Another thing they have in common is working with Willow Creek teaching pro Brad Rose, who says both gentlemen have the necessary game to be in this position, " This is the only USGA event that I haven't had a student play in before so it's pretty cool both these guys got in."

So they've got the game, but do they have the nerve getting ready to play with some of the game's all time greats and in front of a national TV audience. Morton says it took him a little while to soak it all in," First few days I was really thinking about that too much and now I've sort of gotten past the huge impact thing but yeah, it will be neat to be on the range and have Tom Watson, Vijay Singh or Steve Stricker standing next to you, you never know." Burgan adds, "It's a U.S. Open I mean it's 50 and above, but to get to play with guys you've seen playing on TV growing up. I mean these are guys I've watched all my life, to be there on the range with them, competing against them, is a dream come true."

Todd and Ray will leave for South Bend on Sunday and even play a practice round together on Monday. They tell me registration for the event will actually take place inside Notre Dame Stadium. Another Miracle at South Bend? You never know!