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.
Brad Bryant: The 59-year-old captured the 2007 championship at Whistling Straits in Kohler, Wis.
Fred Funk: The 58-year-old captured the 2009 title at Crooked Stick Golf Club in Carmel, Ind.
Olin Browne: The 55-year-old won by three strokes over Mark O’Meara three years ago at Inverness Club in Toledo.
Roger Chapman: The Kenya native who lives in England shot a final-round 66 to capture the 2012 championship at Indianwood Country Club in Lake Orion, Mich.
Kenny Perry: The 53-year-old is the event’s defending champion. Perry fired a 7-under-par 63 the final round to romp to a five-shot win at Omaha Country Club.
In addition to Hale Irwin, Bernhard Langer, Vijay Singh and Tom Kite (listed in the Hall of Fame section), 11 additional players won a PGA Tour major and several more turned in strong performances at major tournaments.
Mark Brooks: The Fort Worth product notched seven PGA Tour wins, but never won a major, falling just short against Retief Goosen at the 2001 U.S. Open at Southern Hills.
Mark Calcavecchia: A steady player who won 13 PGA Tour tournaments, Calcavecchia’s biggest win was the 1989 British Open when he won a playoff against Greg Norman and Wayne Grady.
Steve Elkington: The Australian native won 10 PGA Tour events. His biggest win was the 1995 PGA Championship at Riviera Country Club.
Jay Haas: Even though the Wake Forest product never won a major, he won nine PGA Tour events and has 16 Champions Tour titles. Second on the 2014 Champions Tour money list, Haas also won the 2006 Senior PGA at Oak Tree.
Steve Jones: A steady player from the University of Colorado, Jones notched eight career PGA Tour wins, including winning the 1996 U.S. Open at Oakland Hills.
Tom Lehman: Of his five PGA Tour wins, Lehman’s biggest was winning the 1996 British Open at Royal Lytham.
Rocco Mediate: He never won a major but Mediate won six PGA Tour events. He’s also one of 14 players in the field that participated in the 1984 U.S. national amateur at Oak Tree won by Scott Verplank.
Mark O’Meara: One of only four players in the field with more than one PGA Tour major, O’Meara won 16 PGA Tour tournaments, including winning The Masters in 1998. A few months later he also won the British Open.
Steve Pate: A PGA Tour veteran, Pate captured six PGA Tour wins and finished in the top 10 at all four majors at some point of his career.
Corey Pavin: Consistently among the top players in the world for 15 years, Pavin owns 15 career PGA Tour wins, highlighted by the 1995 U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills, N.Y.
Scott Simpson: His highlight moment was winning the 1987 U.S. Open, defeating Tom Watson by one stroke at Olympic Club in San Francisco.
Jeff Sluman: The Florida State product won six PGA Tour events and already has six Champions Tour titles. He’s third on the 2014 Champions Tour money list. His one major is memorable in Oklahoma. Sluman won the 1988 PGA Championship at Oak Tree.
Hal Sutton: The Louisiana product collected 14 career PGA Tour wins. Sutton, 56, won the 1983 PGA Championship, the year he was named PGA Player of the Year.
Excluding the inaugural tournament, no amateur has finished in the top 10 at the U.S. Senior Open in the past 33 years.
Tim Jackson’s 11th-place finish five years ago is the highest finish in the past three decades. Of the 19 amateurs in the field, here are five who could make the cut.
Jeff Wilson: A sales manager at an auto dealership in northern California, Wilson is a three-time U.S. Mid-Amateur champion. Wilson, 50, was the low amateur at the 2000 U.S. Open.
Doug Hanzel: The lowest amateur at the last two U.S. Senior Opens, Hanzel, 57, also won the USGA national senior amateur last year in Cashiers, N.C.
Michael McCoy: A 51-year-old insurance agent from Des Moines, McCoy is the defending U.S. Mid-America champion. The 11-time Iowa amateur Player of the Year, McCoy lived his dream when he played in this year’s Masters.
Bryan Norton: A former All-American at Oral Roberts University, Norton was the 2003 Mid-America runner-up and is the current president of the Kansas Golf Association.
J.K. Kim: A 55-year-old native of South Korea, Kim is an eighth-degree black belt grandmaster and a five-time taekwondo world champion.
Former PGA Tour members who celebrate their 50th birthday often experience instant success on the Champions Tour. Here are six “young guns” to keep an eye on this week at the U.S. Senior Open at Oak Tree.
Billy Andrade: Turning 50 earlier this year, Andrade already has had some strong finishes. The Wake Forest product notched four PGA Tour wins.
Woody Austin: In his first year on the Champions Tour, the 1995 PGA Tour Rookie of the Year won four PGA Tour events.
Joe Durant: Durant, who turned 50 in April, owns four career PGA Tour wins. He was in contention over the weekend in Greensboro.
Jeff Maggert: A former Player of the Year on the Ben Hogan Tour, Maggert notched three career PGA Tour wins and already has collected a win on the Champions Tour.
Sam Randolph: The USC product notched only one win on the PGA Tour but has a unique tie to Oak Tree. Randolph is the player Scott Verplank defeated in the finals of the 1984 U.S. amateur at Oak Tree.
Kevin Sutherland: Similar to Scott Verplank (Oak Tree), Sutherland is looking forward to the 2015 U.S. Senior Open that will be held in Sacramento, his hometown.