PALM HARBOR, Fla. – Pro golfer Chad Collins and Hall of Fame pitcher Rich “Goose” Gossage successes on the golf course have led to shared interests.
Collins, the 37-year-old PGA veteran, was paired with Gossage in the Valspar Pro-Celebrity Am on Monday, prior to teeing off on Thursday for the official event at Innisbrook Resort, where Jordan Spieth is the defending champion.
The two had instant chemistry, which carried over to their golf game. They were runners-up in the tournament to University of Georgia golfer Lee McCoy and former Junior Middleweight world champion Winky Wright.
Collins said: “We had a good time yesterday. I asked (Gossage) questions about when he was in the big leagues and he said he played for 22 years on nine different teams and was a Hall of Famer in 2008. It was a great day.”
Collins has never been a huge baseball fan, nor had he ever met Gossage before. He was really impressed with Gossage’s abilities on the course and said the former 100-mph-throwing closer was a six or seven handicap. But, it wasn’t just a strong golf game that the Indiana-native and former New York Yankees closer shared.
Collins added: “We talked about hunting and fishing a lot in Colorado. (Gossage) enjoys hunting.”
Now, the focus has shifted back to the Valspar Championship for Collins, who had arguably his best season in 2015, with a top-10 finish at The Greenbrier Classic and four top-25 finishes. This season hasn’t produced the same results, but he says that he knows what to expect from a tricky Innisbrook course.
“I’m working on the driver a lot because this is a tighter course than we normally play and you’ve got to fit the ball around this course,” Collins said. “There are some fairways that are narrow, and some tree-lined holes, and your driver and tee ball, in general, on this course are paramount to hit a lot of fairways so I’ve been working on that.”
The 15-under Collins and Gossage shot to place second in the Pro-Celebrity Am may be out of reach, but he looks to channel that kind of play along with some solid drives into first-round action and turn his season around.