Rain and lightning pushed Wednesday morning’s practice rounds at the U.S. Senior Open at Oak Tree National from 7 a.m. to 9:45 a.m., and with more rain in the forecast for Thursday morning, the tournament could see another delay before its opening round.
Jeff Hall, the USGA’s managing director of rules and competitions, said lightning was a bigger reason for Wednesday’s delays than the estimated .91 inches of rain on the course. As part of the preparation, the USGA contracts an on-site meteorologist to monitor conditions. The rain also created problems with mud in the tournament’s parking lots, but the staff was able to adjust and solve the problems.
As far as possibilities for Thursday and the rest of the week, Hall said the staff will push harder to get tournament rounds going than it did Wednesday. The plan of action is to get the tournament started as soon as possible. Pushing the event back a day is reserved for only the worst-case scenario.
“Practice days, it’s a little bit more relaxed in that regard,” Hall said. “But we’re not going to make a move out on the golf course until it’s safe to do so.
“I guess there’s a chance we could experience what we did what we did this morning, but boy, I sure hope that’s a minimal chance.”
LANGER TAKES PRIDE IN GERMANY
Bernhard Langer is at the top of the favorites list to win the U.S. Senior Open, and if he plays anything like his home country’s team did against Brazil in the World Cup on Tuesday, he’ll do it with ease.
Germany beat Brazil 7-1 in the World Cup semifinals, leading Colin Montgomerie to compare Langer’s domination of the Champions Tour to the German team.
“He's as good as the German football team are, which is ridiculously good,” Montgomerie said.
Langer took the compliment in stride, and said he was even able to watch Tuesday’s match.
“I grew up playing soccer besides golf,” he said. “Almost everybody in Germany enjoys soccer. I watch as much as I can. I missed the first few games because it was always at 12, 3 o’clock, when we play tournament golf. But yesterday I was able to see the whole game, and it was certainly a thrill for me and very big surprise the way we won.”
MONTGOMERIE AIMS FOR EXCLUSIVE CLUB
Only four golfers have won ever won the Senior PGA then won the following U.S. Senior Open, and the names are impressive: Gary Player, Hale Irwin, Jack Nicklaus and Roger Chapman.
After his win at the Senior PGA in May, Montgomerie has a chance to become the fifth.
“You spring out some names there, and obviously to win major championships is very difficult,” he said. “It doesn't matter whether you're senior or a junior at the same time. So I just look forward to trying to emulate those great champions and if possible, but at the same time it's difficult. And it should be difficult.”
COACH CAN STILL PLAY
Jerry Haas is on a golf course every day, but that doesn’t mean he’s always playing.
The reason? He is the golf coach at Wake Forest.
“I don’t play a lot,” Haas said. “You think a golf coach gets to play every day, but I really don’t. Kind of like a manager more than anything.”
Haas, who recently turned 50, does play enough to stay competitive, and he spent the past two days playing practice rounds with his older brother, Jay Haas.
Jerry Haas said his ability to play when needed helps him coach his players.
“They all out-drive me by 50, 60, 70 yards, and most of the time my score seems to add up less than theirs,” he said.
“That is what tries to make me keep in shape and have a pretty decent game. When I can play with them, I can at least show them, ‘Hey, here is what it needs to look like.’ They just take it from there.”
OSU GREATS HOST YOUTH EXHIBITION
Scott Verplank led the Chevron Junior Day Exhibition, along with former Oklahoma State basketball player Desmond Mason and quarterback Brandon Weeden.
The athletes talked about their love for golf and demonstrated shots for the audience. After that, it was time for fun.
The crowd sang “Happy Birthday” to Verplank, who turned 50 on Wednesday. Fans also got autographs and took pictures with Weeden and Mason.
“When (tournament director Jeff Ewing) asked me if I would take part in the event, I didn’t bat an eye,” Weeden said. “I knew I wanted to do it because I knew it would be fun.”
Danish golfer Steen Tinning aced the No. 13 hole at Oak Tree in his Wednesday practice round. Tinning hit a 5-iron 199 yards. It is the only hole-in-one of the week so far.
The Emergency Medical Services Authority reported two more heat-related emergency calls at Oak Tree National on Wednesday.
Tuesday, there were also two heat-related emergencies, and Monday, there were seven heat-related emergencies at the U.S. Senior Open and 13 total. EMSA has staff on-site to respond as highs remain in the 90s this week.
TV COVERAGE TEAMS ANNOUNCED
Sean McDonough will anchor ESPN2’s coverage of the first and second rounds, which will air 3-7 p.m. Thursday and Friday. Curtis Strange, a two-time U.S. Open champion, will be the lead analyst. The course reporters will be Roger Maltbie and Notah Begay from NBC, which is covering the final two rounds.
Staff Writer Mel Bracht contributed to this report.