EDMOND — Oak Tree National PGA teaching pro Jim Woodward has played in two U.S. Opens and four U.S. Senior Opens.
That’s why Woodward doesn’t anticipate many red numbers to be posted July 10-13 at the 2014 U.S. Senior Open at Oak Tree.
“I’ve heard they might consider moving some tee boxes if it’s windy, but the USGA doesn’t care if a course knocks your head off,” Woodward said. “They won’t make it impossible to score but I’ve never seen that group try to take the easy route.
“They’ll keep the greens as quick as they can and grow the rough. It always depends on the weather, but this will be different than the (2006) Senior PGA that was here. Hopefully they’ll use some good judgment. It’s such a hard, hard golf course.”
Corey Pavin won 15 PGA Tour titles, including the 1995 U.S. Open. He was the PGA Tour’s leading money winner in 1991. The Hall of Famer said the 7,214-yard, par-71 layout will force the eventual champion to play well four consecutive days.
“Pete Dye courses are always challenging,” Pavin said. “It’s an excellent golf course that forces you to hit good shots or you can get into a lot of trouble.”
Oak Tree’s Scott Verplank, who will make his Champions Tour debut at the 2014 Senior Open on his home course, knows that fact as well as anyone.
“You have to drive it well because it’s a really tough course from the rough, plus the trees and all the hazards,” Verplank said. “There’s potential for disaster on almost every hole. The key is to get it into play then play smart around the greens because the greens are relatively small by today’s standards.
“Guys who could be in it to the end are elite players like Kenny Perry, Bernhard Langer, Tom Lehman and Fred Couples. I could name several others but it’s one of the toughest courses Champions Tour players will ever see.”
Mike Goodes, 57, has posted 26 top 10 finishes on the Champions Tour. For the past seven years, he’s consistently finished around 30th on the annual money list.
“I haven’t played there since the 1984 amateur 30 years ago but I remember it being a very intimidating golf course,” Goodes said. “Technology has changed to make it easier to drive the ball but with those greens it will always be a very demanding course.”
Woodward said tournaments held in July in Oklahoma are usually physically draining.
“We have a few senior players who haven’t taken very good care of themselves,” Woodward said. “If we get heat and humidity it could take a toll on not only who wins the tournament, but who finishes the tournament. These are players over 50 years old. The heat here can really zap you if it gets really hot.”
Heat, though, can be beneficial for senior players.
“If its humid everybody’s backs will be loose, that’s for sure,” quipped Paul Levy, who is next in line to become PGA President. “When everything is said and done, whoever wins the tournament, they will earn it on a very demanding golf course.”