Tour vet Mark Calcavecchia loves golf in Florida, but still savors Nebraska roots -
Published Monday, July 1, 2013 at 8:01 pm / Updated at 11:03 pm
Tour vet Mark Calcavecchia loves golf in Florida, but still savors Nebraska roots
U.S. Senior Open
When: July 8 to 14
Where: Omaha Country Club

Pro golfer Mark Calcavecchia is a college sports fan with three favorite schools.

First is Florida, where he played college golf. Next is Ohio State, “because that's where my wife went, so I had to become a fan.”


Nebraska, where he lived until age 13.

“I still root for the Huskers,” said Calcavecchia, who will return to his native state for the July 8 to 14 U.S. Senior Open at Omaha Country Club. “I like to keep up with how they are doing.”

His Big Red roots came from growing up in Laurel (population 1,000) in northeast Nebraska.

Calcavecchia stayed through seventh grade before the family moved to North Palm Beach, Fla., in 1973. His father, who taught him golf on the local nine-hole course, suffered from multiple sclerosis and had difficulty dealing with the harsh Midwest winters.

“We had taken vacations quite a few times to Florida when I was little,” Calcavecchia said in a recent interview. “All of my dad's brothers and sisters lived in the Palm Beach and Miami area.”

That familiarity, though, didn't guarantee a smooth transition from small-town Nebraska life.

“It was a shock when I got down there,” he said. “My eighth-grade class had more people than the entire town of Laurel.”

One early memory of the move to Florida stands out to Calcavecchia — playing golf with his brother on Christmas morning at age 13 in 80-degree weather.

“I knew there was a blizzard in Laurel,” he said, “so at that point I kind of thought it was going to be a good spot for me.”

Calcavecchia won the 1977 Florida state high school golf championship, earned a scholarship to Florida and was an all-conference pick. But as he once told Golf Digest, he wasn't interested in a degree.

“I was there to play golf and have fun, and I did both,” he told the magazine. “I stayed eligible for 212 years.”

A failing grade on a sociology test put Calcavecchia on academic probation, so he turned pro in 1981 and earned his PGA Tour card in 1982.

He won 13 PGA titles and the 1989 British Open in a playoff over Greg Norman and Wayne Grady. He also played in four Ryder Cups, and holds the tour record for consecutive birdies in a round — nine — in the 2009 RBC Canadian Open.

On the Champions Tour, the 53-year-old Calcavecchia has two wins: the 2011 Boeing Classic and the 2012 Montreal Championship.

Through the years, Calcavecchia has been known for sometimes spending his tour dollars — $24 million in lifetime earnings — as fast as he made them.

So he chuckled at a question about his motivation to play the Champions Tour.

“Hey, I don't want to be homeless and start selling everything I own,” he said. “I still have a house to pay for, and I bought a big motor home last year. Those things aren't cheap, either.

“So I still have expenses like everybody else. But I love golf.”

Without the game, Calcavecchia isn't sure what he would do.

“I don't mind taking some time off,” he said. “But after a couple of weeks at home, you sit there in your chair and look at the TV and you get tired of looking at the same (thing). So I'm always ready to get back out on the road.”

The fact that the road soon will lead to Omaha pleases Calcavecchia.

“I'm super excited about it,” he said. “They announce those things two or three years in advance, and I've been looking forward to it ever since.

“We don't get to play close to home very often. I know the crowds are going to be huge.”

After an early-season slump tied to an injury suffered in South Africa, Calcavecchia has played well in seven of the past eight tournaments. Last weekend, he tied for ninth at the Senior Players Championship in Pittsburgh, earning $64,800 and moving him to 17th on this year's money list at $511,658.

“I started off horrible this year because I felt terrible,” he said. “But I got another injection in my back last week, so I'm looking for a good run coming into Omaha.”

Contact the writer: Lee Barfknecht    |   402-444-1024    |  

Lee Barfknecht has won nine national writing awards from four separate organizations, and is a 12-time winner of the Nebraska sportswriter of the year award. He covers Big Ten football and basketball, Nebraska basketball and other college financial issues for The World-Herald.

Kelly: Huskers' glory days of '80s live on — on the small screen and on stage
Video: Stothert says Crossroads project is 'full speed ahead,' but she won't support bond issue
Omaha Hall of Fame inductees share stories of their lives in business
Agreement reached to end dog racing at Bluffs Run at end of 2015
Beau McCoy calls Pete Ricketts a 'convenient conservative' for immigration stance
Omaha's Eppley Airfield sees increased demand — and that means more fare options for travelers
Doug McDermott heads for Chicago to begin preparations for NBA draft
Shatel: Herold thinks big and dreams big when it comes to UNO baseball
Lab-grown vaginas among 'cutting edge' advances in sexual health
Warren Buffett says Coca-Cola pay plan 'excessive'
Earnings roundup: Apple plans more stock buybacks, will split stock in June
200 people registered for 5K in memory of Omaha oncologist
7 common myths about the pill
Omaha's dive-iest dive bars
In brief: Postal workers to protest at Staples stores
Annie, I ditched my sister and, for some reason, she's mad at me
Why is ketchup so hard to pour?
Opera Omaha's 'Cinderella' is a little different, but story is still universal
Dining notes: Famous Dave’s moving to new spot
Live Music Calendar
Country music's six biggest threesomes
Big weekend ahead for Nebraska Wind Symphony
Theater events listing
Black Lips show staying power
Sawyer Brown known for its 'Nebraska Song'

Thursday's Top Events
PCL baseball
Omaha at New Orleans, 7 p.m. (Live stats)

Game Time, TV/Radio Schedule
Thursday's Area Events
Thursday's TV/Radio Schedule

Prep Results (mobile)

Holes in One
Dog Racing Results
Horse Racing Entries, Horse Racing Results
Deadline Deal thumbnail
7M Grill
Half Off Delicious Comfort Fusion Food & Drinks!
Buy Now
< >
Blog: Dirk's 'Mad Chatter'
Dirk Chatelain offers his thoughts on the latest news from around the sports world, complete with links to the best articles, opinion columns, YouTube videos and more.
Civic Auditorium Timeline
World-Herald columnist Tom Shatel asked readers for their favorite memories of the Civic Auditorium. We combined their submissions with a few key events or moments in the auditorium's history.
CWS: Banner Years
The College World Series historical database, a growing home for historical information about past NCAA baseball championships, which have been played in Omaha since 1950.
Downtown Omaha event map
Discover the area surrounding the CenturyLink Center, TD Ameritrade Park and downtown Omaha -- including restaurants, arts & entertainment venues, hotels and local retail outlets.
Facebook: Tom Shatel's page
Get Tom Shatel's sports columns delivered straight to your Facebook feed.
Follow Tom Shatel on Twitter
Get instant analysis and commentary from World-Herald columnist Tom Shatel on Twitter.
Nebraska high school basketball's greatest night
Four elite teams. Two buzzer-beaters. One packed house. On March 11, 1989, the stars aligned and produced the best night in Nebraska high school basketball history.
Shatel's blog
Check out the latest from World-Herald sports columnist Tom Shatel.
Shatel: Tom's Take on 20 Unforgettable Years in Sports
Get World-Herald columnist Tom Shatel's book "Shatel: Tom's Take on 20 Unforgettable Years in Sports."
Super Bowl: Through the years
The Super Bowl is a yearly media madhouse. See how The World-Herald sports section's front pages portrayed each of the Super Bowl victories won by those players celebrated in our Mt. Rushmore of Super Bowl QBs.
Talk sports with World-Herald reporters
World-Herald reporters log on to talk about the latest news surrounding the Huskers, Jays, Mavericks, high schools sports and more. Check out the upcoming chat schedule or replay the latest discussions with the fans.
The disappearance of small-town football
Friday night lights across rural Nebraska are going dark. But one town, in its last season of gridiron independence, proved that school spirit is stronger than ever.
The Nebraska 100
In an historic 2005 series, The World-Herald selected the state’s all-time top 100 athletes. In a new web exclusive, see the digitized collection for the first time.
2013 college football preview
View our 2013 college football preview, a 26-page, three-part section filled with coverage of the Huskers, Big Ten conference and more.
Big Red Bowl Retrospective
See complete historical results, game recaps and photo coverage from the Nebraska Cornhuskers college football bowl game appearances, from the 1941 Rose Bowl up to today.
Want to get World-Herald stories sent directly to your home or work computer? Sign up for's News Alerts and you will receive e-mails with the day's top stories.
Can't find what you need? Click here for site map »