In 1979, he won the Metro Junior Open Division golf tournament in Cedar Rapids.
The next year, he was the medalist at the state high school Class 2A meet for championship team Cedar Rapids Regis.
Here’s what can happen when you stay with something: Thursday, 56-year-old Ned Zachar will begin play at the U.S. Senior Open, in the same event with golf names like Fred Couples, Davis Love III and Vijay Singh.
“I’ve kept my game sharp,” Zachar said in an understatement this week from Colorado Springs, Colo., where the Senior Open will be held at The Broadmoor. “Especially the last 12 to 14 years after my kids got a little older.”
Zachar left Cedar Rapids long ago. He played on the men’s golf team at Iowa State, and was a team captain as a senior in 1985.
“Once I decided I wasn’t going to be a professional golfer I went to graduate school at Loyola University in Chicago and got an MBA in finance.”
From that point forward, Zachar has worked for some of the nation’s top investment firms, on Wall Street and in San Francisco. Since 2008, he has been a partner at KLS Diversified in New York. He lives in Bedford, N.Y., home of Glen Arbor Golf Club. Zachar has won that club’s championship 12 times.
He qualified for the U.S. Senior Amateur in his first try, last year. Zachar advanced through stroke play and reached the final 32 of match play.
But the Senior Open, for players 50 and over, has been his holy grail, and now it’s a reality. He has a blog chronicling his experience there at mgagolf.org.
“I’ve been thinking about playing in the Senior Open since I was 45,” Zachar said. “I’d been trying to qualify for the last four or five years. I’ve always said to qualify you had to make four or five 10-to-15-foot putts because somebody else will if you don’t. This year, I did.”
It’s a long way from morning rounds at Elmcrest Country Club with his then-fellow teenage golf pals, but Zachar doesn’t discount his Cedar Rapids golf days with reaching United States Golf Association national championships.
“It does seem like a long time ago,” he said, “but some of my fondest memories are at Elmcrest, playing on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday mornings with seven or eight other kids. We were always ready to rock and roll at the first tee.
“I give a lot of credit to the membership at the club. The impact it made was huge.”
On Wednesday, Zachar will have PGA Champions Tour star Jay Haas (18 wins) as a playing partner for the second time this week. On Thursday, Zachar will be part of a threesome that will have the Senior Open’s last tee time of the day, at 2:36 p.m., Mountain time.
“I’ve played golf at a high level from an amateur standpoint,” Zachar said. “But when you go by the grandstands and the hospitality tents, this is all rather new.
“In the end, it’s just golf. I’ve done it a hundred million times. Hopefully, I can carry that attitude on the golf course.”
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