Bernhard Langer stood on the practice green at Oak Tree National on Monday morning before even starting his practice round.
He wiped his brow.
“I try to get away from the sun, but it always finds me,” he said. “It sure is hot.”
Temperatures were already in the 80s at 11 a.m. While golfers were still on the course into the afternoon, it was 96 degrees.
Forecasts indicate highs will be in the upper-90s all week, giving local golfer Scott Verplank an interesting dichotomy.
He said he was glad to wear slacks out at his home course because of the major tournament feel. The heat, though, made simply walking nine holes a challenge. In that regard, Verplank’s knowledge of the course might not be his only advantage.
Years spent in the central Oklahoma heat could prove helpful when competing against players such as Langer, who was born in Germany.
“You have to come prepared for this type of stuff,” Verplank said. “You can’t get prepared today or tomorrow. I think everybody knew coming here that chances are it’s going to be hot and windy, and it is what it is.”
Largely because of the heat, USGA officials are allowing spectators to bring one unopened 16-ounce bottle of water to the tournament. Water sold at concession stands costs $2.50, but it comes with a buy-one, get-one free offer.
deVine Water, a company based in Jet, is the official water partner of the U.S Senior Open. deVine will help hydrate the 2,500-3,500 volunteers and other staff at the tournament. The company estimated it will go through about 5,000 gallons of water by the end of the week.
“We also allow spectators to bring an umbrella and a chair,” said Matt Sawicki, USGA director of championships. “We encourage fans to take advantage of some nice shady spots. If you flop your chair next to the rope line it’s like having a courtside seat at a Thunder game.
“We’re being aggressive in our message to the public that we want spectators to have fun, but also we want them to be safe, which is why we’ve had a plan in place for more than a year in case heat became an issue.”