EDMOND — Willie Wood and Bill Glasson will be done before the leaders tee off. Bob Tway and Gil Morgan will be finishing when the tournament is being decided by other players. And Scott Verplank and Rocky Walcher will be sitting by the pool or laying on the couch for the whole thing.
Our guys went kaput in this U.S. Senior Open.
This weekend was supposed to be one big red dirt party at Oak Tree National. The locals were going to play great the first three days and put themselves in contention heading into the final round. The galleries were going to be pulling for Dr. Gil or Scotty or one of the guys to win it all on Sunday.
But despite not having a bunch of locals in the hunt, we couldn’t ask for a better Sunday setup. We have a great leaderboard. It’s chocked with big names. It’s overflowing with great storylines.
Let’s start with those big names. Bernhard Langer, Colin Montgomerie, Vijay Singh and Jeff Sluman are all under par and in the top five. Every one of them had a long and successful career on the PGA Tour. What’s more, every one of them has won at least one major, whether on the PGA Tour or the Champions Tour.
These guys are names that even the most casual golf fan knows.
And if you look a little farther down the leaderboard, you’ll see more recognizable names. Woody Austin. David Frost. Rocco Mediate. Mark Brooks. Loren Roberts. Tom Kite. Any of those guys could make a charge.
All of them are chasing one of the best storylines you’ll find. Gene Sauers is the leader at 7-under heading into the final round, and a little over three years ago, he was in the hospital and didn’t know if he’d get out of it alive. He had a rare skin condition that burned him from the inside out, and he had large patches of skin on both of his arms and both of his legs that burned so badly they had to be grafted.
If he wins Sunday, he’ll raise the trophy with arms that still bear the scars of that ordeal.
Then, there are Champions Tour rookies Scott Dunlap and Marco Dawson. While both are longtime professional golfers, both have struggled to compete at the highest level, losing their PGA Tour cards on several occasions.
But this week, they are going toe-to-toe with Montgomerie and Singh and Co.
This leaderboard has a little something for everyone. If you want a big name to cheer, there are plenty. If you want a feel-good story to champion, there are options.
Need any more reasons to get excited about Sunday?
Well, here’s one more — the size of the crowds this week could help bring more events, maybe even bigger ones, to Oak Tree National. Officials with the course have made it known that they want to lure more majors, and they’re not just talking about senior events. They want something like a PGA Championship or a U.S. Open or maybe even a Ryder Cup.
How cool would that be?
Obviously, lots would have to be done in and around the course before an event of that magnitude could be staged, but Oak Tree National has shown it can get things done.
What it can’t do once this weekend is over is show the level of support golf has here. Huge galleries for Sunday’s final round would leave golf’s decision makers with a strong last impression. They won’t put a big-time event at Oak Tree just because of the crowds, but if they need a tiebreaker in the process, you can bet they’ll remember those galleries.
Sunday won’t be a perfect day. It will be hot. It will be sticky. It will be void of any locals in the hunt. But it won’t be miserable.
Not even a little bit.
Jenni Carlson: Jenni can be reached at 475-4125. Like her at facebook.com/JenniCarlsonOK, follow her at twitter.com/jennicarlson_ok or view her personality page at newsok.com/jennicarlson.