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U.S. Senior Open: 44 players to watch for this week's tournament at Oak Tree National

The 156-player field will be tested by Oak Tree National, considered to be one of the most difficult golf courses in the nation.
by Michael Baldwin Published: July 6, 2014
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photo -   Hale Irwin hits his approach shot on the 18th hole during the second round of the Senior PGA Championship golf tournament at Harbor Shores Golf Club in Benton Harbor, Mich., Friday, May 25, 2012. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)
Hale Irwin hits his approach shot on the 18th hole during the second round of the Senior PGA Championship golf tournament at Harbor Shores Golf Club in Benton Harbor, Mich., Friday, May 25, 2012. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

The 35th U.S. Senior Open will feature 13 players who combined to win 18 majors on the PGA Tour, including five Hall of Famers. The 156-player field will be tested by Oak Tree National, considered to be one of the most difficult golf courses in the nation.

“Talking to players that have played a practice round, they absolutely love this course,” said Brian DePasquale, Champions Tour communications manager. “They feel it’s (PGA Tour caliber) U.S. Open conditions. They like that, knowing they’ll need every skill in their bag if they’re to win it.”

The Oklahoman profiles 44 players fans can follow during practice rounds Monday-Wednesday and four championship rounds Thursday-Sunday.

“Spectators will love watching this type of golf,” DePasquale said. “Depending on their expectations, some fans are surprised how well these players are still playing in their 50s and 60s. We even have a few players in their 70s.”

Oklahomans in the field

Seven Oklahomans are in the 156-player field at the 35th annual U.S. Senior Open at Oak Tree National:

Scott Verplank: One of the nation’s top amateurs when he was an All-American at Oklahoma State, Verplank won the 1984 U.S. amateur at Oak Tree. Hampered by injuries, Verplank has still grinded out five PGA Tour wins and has played on two Ryder Cup teams. He makes his Champions Tour debut on his home course.

Bob Tway: The 1986 PGA Player of the Year who was immortalized after he holed out from a sand bunker to win the 1986 PGA Championship, Tway has been with Oak Tree almost from the outset. The 55-year-old Tway has earned more than $18 million, including nearly $2 million on the Champions Tour.

Gil Morgan: The Wewoka native has compiled 278 top finishes, including 126 first, second or third-place finishes during his 40-year career. Morgan, 67, is third all-time on the Champions Tour with 25 wins.

Willie Wood: The fourth member of the Oak Tree gang, Wood ended a 12-year drought with a win at the 2012 Dick’s Sporting Goods Open. A month later he notched another Champions Tour win. Wood leads the Champions Tour in fewest putts per round.

Danny Edwards: One of the first members at Oak Tree in the mid-1970s, the Edmond native moved to Scottsdale, Ariz., 30 years ago. A former race-car driver, Edwards returns to his hometown after shooting a 68 at a one-day qualifier in Mesa, Ariz.

Bill Glasson: A Stillwater resident, Glasson, 54, played at ORU. He won seven PGA Tour events and has earned $9 million on the two tours. Glasson is the second-highest Okie on the 2014 Champions Tour money list (26th).

Rocky Walcher: The Oklahoma City resident once played in 60 PGA Tour events and more than 250 tournaments on the Buy.com Tour, but for the past decade he’s worked in the private sector. Walcher earned a spot by firing a 68 at a one-day qualifier in Aledo, Texas.

Golf hall of famers

Five players in the 2014 U.S. Senior Open are in the World Golf Hall of Fame:

Hale Irwin: Owns 87 career wins, including 20 on the PGA Tour, highlighted by three U.S. Opens — 1974 (Winged Foot), 1979 (Inverness) and 1990 (Medinah). One of only four players to ever win a pro tournament on all six continents, Irwin, 69, is the all-time leader on the Champions Tour with 45 wins and career earnings ($26.8 million).

Tom Kite: The former Texas University star won 19 PGA Tour events, his most prestigious win being the 1992 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. Kite, 64, has branched out into golf design. He also was one of the first golfers to use a sports psychologist.

Bernhard Langer: The German native owns 92 career wins, including 42 on the European Tour, the second-most all time. Langer, 56, won three PGA Tour events, including winning the 1985 and 1993 Masters. He’s the runaway money leader on the 2014 Champions Tour.

Colin Montgomerie: Regarded as the greatest player in Ryder Cup history, the 51-year-old Montgomerie never won a PGA Tour event but won the Senior PGA Championship earlier this year. Monty owns 31 wins on the European Tour, fourth most all-time.

Vijay Singh: The legendary player from Fiji has won 59 professional tournaments, including 34 PGA Tour events. Singh, 51, has won three majors — twice winning the PGA Championship (1998, 2004) and The Masters (2000).

Former U.S. Senior Open champions

Ten players in the 156-player field have won the U.S. Senior Open. In addition to Bernhard Langer and Hale Irwin (listed in the Hall of Fame section), a list of the other eight players in the field that have won the Senior U.S. Open:

Larry Laoretti: The 74-year-old is the oldest player in the field. Laoretti won the 1992 title at Saucon Valley in Bethlehem, Penn.

Dave Eichelberger: He led Oklahoma State to the 1963 NCAA championship. Eichelberger, 70, won the 1999 title at Des Moines Country Club.

Peter Jacobsen: Doubles as a commentator for the Golf Channel and NBC. Jacobsen, 60, won the 2004 Senior U.S. Open at Bellerive Country Club, St. Louis, Mo.

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by Michael Baldwin
Redhawks, Barons, MLB, NFL Reporter
Mike Baldwin has been a sports reporter for The Oklahoman since 1982. Mike graduated from Okmulgee High School in 1974 and attended Oklahoma Christian University, graduating with a journalism degree in 1978. Mike's first job was sports editor...
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