EDMOND — A two-time U.S. Open winner, 59-year-old Curtis Strange won’t be inside the ropes, but in the television booth for this week’s U.S. Senior Open at Oak Tree National.
Strange, who won back-to-back U.S. Open championships in 1988-89, was in the field when Oak Tree hosted the 1988 PGA Championship and again for the Senior PGA in 2006. So he knows exactly how tough the course can play when it’s set up for a major championship.
Q: What do you remember about Oak Tree National from your previous two tournaments here?
A: I thoroughly enjoy the golf course. It’s a hell of a good test, especially since I assume the wind will be blowing out there this week. There are some difficult greens. You have to play. You have to strike the ball well, especially if the wind’s blowing. With the wind, you have to hit the ball on the button every time to control the distance and the spin. What makes Oak Tree is the wind. That’s the No. 1 element you have to deal with.
Are events like this fun for you to broadcast, since it’s so many of the guys you’ve faced your entire career?
On a scale of easy to hard, this is the easiest, because I know the guys. The older you get, the farther you get removed from the current-day player, so there’s more homework and preparation to be done. And even then, I can’t talk intimately about the young guys like I can these guys — some nugget that nobody knows that I know from college days, or starting out on tour or whatever it might be. This is fun.
Who are some of the guys you think might be among the favorites this week?
I look at one guy, Bernhard Langer is his name (laughs). He’s phenomenal. He’s extraordinary in his consistency. His level of competitive drive and enthusiasm for the game at 56 is incredible. He looks like he goes at it as hard as he ever did. I know he doesn’t quite, because of physical restrictions, but I marvel at him. I love the game still, and I still want to play, but I don’t. But he does. He’s an anomaly in this game, and there are other guys like him, but he seems to be the guy who goes at it 24-7, plays well every week, the whole thing.
There are others. Kenny Perry is the defender. Tom Lehman just won a couple weeks ago. Jay Haas has played well, it seems every week, though he hasn’t won.
What do expect from Scott Verplank in his senior debut?
My gosh, he’s probably more eager to go than anybody in the field. He’s on his home golf course, in his backyard, sleeping in his own bed. Geez, you couldn’t write a better script for him in the U.S. Senior Open. So you certainly expect him to do well. I would be shocked if he wasn’t on the first page of the leaderboard on Sunday afternoon.
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