Spittle saves his career

IAN HUTCHINSON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:45 AM ET

To properly unroll the unbridled exuberance of Rod Spittle of Niagara Falls would require every page of a newspaper. Since that isn't possible, let's just say that he was still basking in his first Champions Tour win nearly a week after it happened.

"It's still a three-ring circus. It's a lovely three-ring circus. I've talked to so many people. Just because of the business and just the way people do things now, everybody can find me. It's so easy to find anybody," said Spittle, who didn't seem to mind after his victory at the AT&T Championship in San Antonio.

"It's just a blast. I've gotten hundreds of e-mails and phone calls. They haven't stopped yet," he said. "Everybody knows what this means and to share it with all my buddies and friends is even better than winning on Sunday," said Spittle.

In an era when it's quite often millionaires picking up million-dollar cheques, Spittle's rise from Monday qualifier to champion is refreshing. Not only did he enjoy a $262,500 pay day, but he also earned a one-year exemption on the Champions Tour.

That last one is especially sweet for a guy who conceivably was about 30 days away from calling an end to his touring career which began at the age of 49 as he was working in the insurance business after winning back-to-back Canadian Amateur titles in 1977-78.

"I guess the best answer that I've been able to give everybody is two things. I just always thought I could play and I just always thought that I could win again," said Spittle of a decision he made with wife Ann.

"Mid-40s, I'm still big and strong and healthy. I guess that was the other intangible. Financially, we're okay, the kids are okay. Let's go do this for five years. We'll see how far we can go. It was pretty much that simple," said Spittle, who doubles as director of golf at Little Turtle Golf Club, near Columbus, Ohio.

"Nobody else knew that up until a week ago," he added. "Had we not gotten the card in 30 days, I would say 99% chance that we were going back to work. We were going to do something else," he added.

Spittle said he had to put that out of his head going into Monday qualifying in San Antonio. The AT&T Championship, if he made it in, was originally intended to be a warm-up for Champions Tour qualifying school, but things changed drastically when he won that event in a playoff.

"There have been so many people who have helped along the way. Maybe, some guys have done it on their own, I don't know how, but that has never been our approach," said Spittle, mentioning the contributions of J.R. Ables, his caddie/swing coach who also doubles as a teaching professional in central Ohio.

Being a Canadian Golf Hall of Fame member, Canadians will know Spittle's other mentor better after he ran into Bob Panasik of Windsor a few years back.

"I remember Bob from when I was a kid. I introduced myself and Bob was gracious enough to adopt me for the last two years. We started officially working together in January of '09 and we started that day to work to win. It is not pulling anybody's chain -- without Bob Panasik, this wouldn't have been possible," he said.

"For me to be able to tap into a legend, it just was one more piece of the puzzle."


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