Saint Louis alum Stan Souza has been representing Hawai’i for a long time on golf’s biggest stages. It started locally winning the 1972 state title, then at BYU for his collegiate career before turning professional. As a pro, he’s played in three PGA Tour events, including the ’77 Masters and twice at his home course of Waialae Country Club for the Hawaiian Open.
This week Souza is in Omaha, Nebraska for the U.S. Senior Open after winning the local qualifier on June 14th. It’s the second time the Honolulu native is playing in the event. In 2018, he memorably made an ace on the fourth hole of his first round. That year he was just a few months removed from hip surgery, so he admits he wasn’t at his physical best. Not this year. He’s be training for the hilly Omaha Country Club, waking up before the sun rises to hike the hills of Kailua.
“It’s a combination of both. You’re walking down hill then you’re going up. Every hole you’re going down and up, down and up. Physically, yeah, the person who is in the best shape,” Souza told KHON2’s Alan Hoshida via Zoom, “Of course, being accurate is the whole key in the US Open. You have my to hit the fairway. If you miss the fairway, then good luck. I hit a shot yesterday and swung as hard as I possibly could and hit it about 50 yards.”
The USGA is known for setting up U.S. Opens incredibly difficult to test the game’s best. Souza says this week is no different. He imagines shooting even par (70) every day will have you at or near the top of the leaderboard.
“If they keep the tee boxes the same length that we are practice rounds then even-par will win easily. I know eight years ago, Kenny Perry won. He shot seven-under on the last day but they said they moved the tees way up so they made it played a lot easier. If they do that then I would say five-under might win or maybe 10. I doubt it. If you shoot even par; you have a good chance.”
At 66-years-old, Souza is one of the oldest players in the field, but the honor of playing for his home state in a golf major never gets old.
“I love it. I love it. It’s in my blood. Love the islands, love to represent. Naturally, you want to win. You’re playing to win. I just want to play well. I want to hit the golf shots I need to hit and obviously have fun doing it. I had some practice rounds with some of the old timers. They’re going ‘Stan, you might be the 2nd oldest guy in the field and you still hit it a hell of a long way.’ I say well it’s called training my friend.”
He will put that training to the test beginning at 4 am Hawai’i Time. Coverage of the tournament will be on Golf Channel all week. Thursday it begins at 7 am Hawai’i time.