EDMOND – Director of Golf Steve Kimmel anticipates several players will experience firsthand the potential peril on nearly every hole next week when Oak Tree National hosts the U.S. Senior Open.
“A lot of us will be shocked if someone doesn’t post a 90 those first two days,” Kimmel said. “Someone won’t be hitting it well and will get frustrated. We’re thinking it’ll probably take 6- or 7-under to win it, especially if they go to the 7,200 yardage layout.
“Someone probably will get hot and shoot a really good score, but we don’t expect many red (below par) numbers. They weren’t many red numbers at the (2007) Senior PGA. And this will be a lot more difficult than the Senior PGA.”
Jay Haas shot a 5-under-par 279, defeating Brad Bryant in a playoff seven years ago at the Senior PGA at Oak Tree. Only five golfers shot under par.
The USGA is legendary for making championship courses difficult, but longtime Oak Tree PGA Tour pro Bob Tway said the Pete Dye-designed 7,219-yard, par-71 layout is a challenge regardless of the weather or where tournament officials place flags.
“It’s not tricked up,” Tway said. “The rough isn’t extremely high. But you better hit in the fairway. The greens won’t be overly hard overly fast because they don’t need to be.
“The conditions of the course are such you can score good, but this is one of the more difficult golf courses I’ve ever played, especially under tournament conditions. It will be a difficult test but a fair test.”
Jeff Hall, the USGA’s managing director of rules and competitions, arrived in Oklahoma late Tuesday night. Hall toured the back nine on Wednesday and will examine the front nine on Thursday.
“If the front nine is like the back nine, I think we’re very well positioned,” Hall said, smiling. “(Oak Tree superintendent) Josh (Cook) and his team have done a fantastic job getting Oak Tree National ready for the U.S. Senior Open.”
A variety of tee boxes, some used by Oak Tree members, will determine how Hall and his staff tweak the course the final two days.
“It depends on how involved much Mother Nature wants to be,” Hall said. “If the wind blows 20 mph we could play it 6,400 yards and it would still be plenty of golf course. We’ll make adjustments based on how firm and fast things are.
“We’ll have first rate test of course. I don’t believe anybody will be suggesting the golf course needs to be made any more difficult by the time we hand out a trophy Sunday night.”