WASHINGTON - Where the game of golf ranks, Steve Hussey has the fever again.
"My goal for this year is that I've decided to play as much as I can," said Hussey, who will join the 120-member field for the West Virginia Open scheduled for June 17-21 at Parkersburg Country Club in Vienna.
"Now that I've made the Open, I want to try to qualify for the West Virginia State Amateur," he continued. "I want to play as many USGA events as I can. I have to play a lot to make that happen."
At age 37, Hussey is trying to return to the form which put him into the professional level of the sport, which he decided to pursue after spending three seasons as a member of the Southern Methodist University men's golf team.
"I turned professional briefly and it was a humbling experience," Hussey said. "You think you are good coming out of college. I played on the mini-tours down in Florida. You shoot a couple shots under par on a tough course then find out how good you really are when somebody comes in with a 63.
"On my best day, I can't do that."
Hussey doesn't regret turning pro and with the passage of time, he decided to apply for reinstatement as an amateur through the West Virginia Golf Association. That was nearly eight years ago, so now Hussey is seeking to climb back up the ladder and put himself in contention - starting with the West Virginia Open on a course he knows extremely well.
His best showing at the West Virginia Open is fourth place in 1995 when the tournament was played at Canaan Valley.
"The guy who won it ran away with it that year, but I double-bogeyed the last hole - otherwise I would have finished second," Hussey said. "I played good in the final round. It's been a long time ago, but it is definitely a highlight of my career."
As a youngster, baseball took a front seat in Hussey's athletic career until he blew his arm out when he was 12 years old. As a high school student at Parkersburg South, Hussey focused on basketball and golf. In 1993, he was medalist as South captured the Class AAA state golf title.
Hussey's start in golf began with his father, Ed Hussey. Larry Martin also contributed to his success.
"My dad could tell early on that I had some talent for the game, so he was very supportive," Hussey said. "He passed away when I was 19 years old, so that was pretty much the end of my competitive golf career - honestly.
"I played for a couple of years, but obviously my mom had to worry about her financial situation and I had to go to work."
On the side, Hussey taught himself to play guitar in college. His band recently played at the Parkersburg Homecoming.
"Playing in the band is a hobby," Hussey said. "I've always been kind of musical and always loved music."
Hussey also loves golf, so that's why earning a slot in the West Virginia Open at last week's qualifier played at the Golf Club of West Virginia in Waverly meant something special.
"I wanted this pretty badly," said Hussey, who won the club championship last year at Parkersburg Country Club. "I know the course very well - it suits my game because most of the par 5s are reachable in two for me, except for maybe one.
"Obviously, I want to make the cut. I don't think a top 15 or top 10 finish is out of the question if I play really well."