“Mr. 59” turns 59 next weekend.
And he plans to celebrate his most anticipated birthday - in the mind of the golfing public, at least - in Spokane.
Al Geiberger, the first player to break 60 in an official PGA Tour event, has agreed to participate in the 1996 Senior Pro Classic, which will be held Monday, Sept. 2, at Indian Canyon Golf Course Geiberger, who earned his nickname by carding 11 birdies and an eagle for a 13-under-par 59 during the second round of the 1977 Danny Thomas-Memphis Classic, turns 59 the day before the event. But he plans to fly into Spokane from a Senior Tour stop in Park City, Utah, next Sunday evening in time to attend a Welcome the Pros dinner at Cavanaugh’s Inn at the Park.
And Pro Classic organizer Toby Steward is planning a birthday bash, complete with cake, ice cream and 17 of Geiberger’s closest Senior Tour friends, who will make up the rest of the field in Sunday’s 6-hole United Paint Shootout.
“It’s neat that we have him coming in when we do,” Steward said. “This birthday is something special, because it corresponds with one of the most memorable feats in golf.”
Geiberger, in a phone interview conducted from his new home in Woodinville, said he was looking forward to turning 59.
“When I sign autographs, I still sign ‘Mr. 59,” Geiberger explained. “The older fans all know what it means, but some of the young kids have no idea.
“Now, instead of having to explain, I can just tell the kids that’s how old I am.”
Geiberger, who won 11 events - including the 1966 PGA Championship and $1,274,117 on the regular PGA Tour, joined the Senior Tour in 1987 and has been one of its most consistent performers.
As a senior, he has won 10 events - including this year’s Greater Naples IntelliNet Open - and $3,779,400. Along with Gary Player and Walt Morgan, Geiberger adds big-name status to the third annual Pro Classic.
Unfortunately, Geiberger will probably not bring his best game to the Canyon.
He has taken the last four weeks off to avoid the heat and humidity of the Senior Tour’s late-summer swing through the eastern United States and to further settle into his new surroundings in the Pacific Northwest.
In addition, he is nursing a sore foot - the result of having stumbled over one of his children’s toys, hyperextending a toe.
That might sound like an improbable way for a 59-year-old member of the Senior PGA Tour to sustain an injury, but in Geiberger’s case, it makes sense.
He and his wife, Carolyn, are currently raising a “second family” in the Seattle area. They have an 8-year-old son, Al, Jr., and a 5-year-old daughter, Kathleen Marie. And like any couple with young children, they have toys scattered like land mines throughout their spacious new home.
Geiberger, who also has four children (ages 19 to 32) from a previous marriage, said having tykes around the house helps keep him feeling young.
“Actually, I don’t know what it would be like to not (have them around),” he said. “It keeps you going, that’s for sure.”
Since moving from Solvang, Calif., last March, Geiberger has purchased a boat and dabbled in salmon fishing - thanks to Al, Jr.
According to Geiberger, some friends took his youngest son salmon fishing and he loved it. And after seeing Al, Jr.’s reaction, he agreed to go along on the next trip.
“They got me up at 4 in the morning,” Geiberger recalled. “Hell, you can’t get me up that early for golf.”
Geiberger candidly admitted he knows as much about Spokane as he does salmon fishing. And he knows even less about the Pro Classic.
But this whole birthday thing has him feeling like his upcoming visit to the eastern side of the state is destined to be memorable.
“I’m looking forward to it,” Geiberger said. “I turn 59 that weekend - ‘Mr. 59’ turns 59.
“You could probably write something about that.”
, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Photo
MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story: ON DECK The 1996 Senior Pro Classic will be held Monday, Sept. 2, at Indian Canyon Golf Course.
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