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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)

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.

Major names

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.

Top amateurs

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.

‘Young guns’

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.

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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