Notes From The US Senior Open - Friday

Inverness 2011 Senior Open -7115
The Par 3 Twelfth

The weather today was much nicer than earlier in the week. Rain overnight and throughout the morning, combined with cloud cover that never dissipated kept the temperatures down. The humidity was still high today, though.

The late start—some two hours plus will push the final groupings back into the early evening. There should be plenty of time, though. This time of year, the sun doesn’t set until 9:30 or so.

In following leader Olin Browne (now at the top of the leaderboard at nine under), I found it also interesting to watch the movements of the television crews. It’s quite a travelling circus, with a trio of golf carts playing leapfrog to get into position for the next camera shot. Roger Maltby has a chauffeured golf cart, which whisks him from one ball location to another. Ahead of him is a spotter, who dashes out into the fairway well ahead of the players and cameras to get yardages. Along the side of the ropes, another crew member runs forward (I couldn’t keep up with him, and I’m a fast walker) with his clipboard to keep track of who’s hitting in what order. There are also a couple of carts with cameras and a guy whose only function seems to be to get to the green and put a large tripod in place. All of this was coordinated by a lady walking inside the ropes with a walkie talkie.

My guess is that there’s another couple of squadrons doing the same thing elsewhere. Viewed on television, it looks quite seamless. On the ground, it looks like a hill of ants scurrying around.

Players in the media interviews described the course as softer than the previous day, but still championship calibre. Nick Price:

The course set up is wonderful.  Really, the rough is just thick enough that if you don’t drive the ball in the fairway, particularly on the longer holes, you’re going to be penalized, but it’s not unplayable.  Soft conditions is why the scores are so good, I think, because the greens are soft.  They don’t quite have the fire in them that everyone was expecting and I’m sure the USGA wanted.  But as the weekend goes on and continues, I think they’ll dry out, and by Sunday on the back nine, the golf course will be playing exactly like everyone wants it to.

Olin Browne also practically gushed about course conditions:

I think in recent years there’s been a philosophical evolution at USGA with their course set up, and I think it continues here.  It’s not one foot off the back cut and rough up to your earlobes and the whole thing.  I think the courses are set up to let players play, and I think we as players really appreciate that.

I spent much of the day following two groups through the Five Fingers of Death (holes 14 – 19). I begin to suspect that my fascination for the Five Fingers comes from the same dark place as people who watch NASCAR hoping to see a five car pileup. Players are struggling through the back nine and losing shots to par, but few are blowing up completely. Leader Olin Browne lost a shot on fourteen, but got one back each on 17 and 18.

An interesting note: the oldest player in the field was 75 year old Dale Douglas, who shot twenty over. Forget the final score: imagine competing in your national open at age 75! There were a few here in the media room who suggested that perhaps he shouldn’t have been allowed to play. I totally disagree: he was, after all, better than all the others who wanted to get in who didn’t make it. All you had to do to keep Dale Douglas out was find people who could play better than he.

The projected cut at this point is +3.



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