ST. LOUIS — Of the 83 competitors so far in the Ascension Charity Classic field, nobody knows the course better than 60-year-old Jay Delsing.
The Saint Louis University High School grad is St. Louis through and through. His dad even played for the St. Louis Browns. And Norwood Hills Country Club is his domain.
"So many memories. So much that I've never had to deal with in a round before. And there's a benefit to that, right? Because I know the golf course so well," Delsing said. "I told someone the other day, 'There's no place on this west course I've never hit it.' I've hit it in the swimming pool and I still hold the course record."
It's been a long road leading Delsing to the Champions Tour event at Norwood Hills starting on Sept. 9.
He was a phenom at age 14, breaking par and attending SLUH. He was a two-time All-American at UCLA, and then turned pro right away and won three events right out of the gate.
But success on the PGA Tour has eluded Delsing. It's been 20 years and almost 600 tournaments without a win.
"When you're out there missing cuts and your fades are drawing and your putts are lipping out... those are the toughest times," Delsing said.
But don't think for a second that Delsing has any ounce of bitterness in him.
"I love the fact that I got so lucky to be involved in this game. It's done so much for my family, for my daughters... it's provided. I've met people, I've played places it's done things for me that no other job could have done and I couldn't be more fortunate," Delsing said.
And the game has introduced him to some famous faces, both in the golf world and beyond.
"The coolest guy, and no disrespect to those Hall of Famers and legends, was Sean Connery when I was 18 years old," Delsing said. "He taps me on the shoulder on the putting green at Bel-Air Country Club. He said, 'Young man, would you care to play nine holes with me?' I turned around because I recognized the voice and was just like... holy... it's James Bond."
Now, Delsing has a chance to go for a win in his hometown on a course he knows like the back of his hand. And you bet he wants it bad.
"If I could wave a magic wand... this is my week," Delsing said. "I'd give up everything else to win this week. Right here."