Nelson Calls Penalty On Himself
By Ken Klavon, USGA
Town and Country, Mo. – Larry Nelson looked upon Craig Stadler's 5-under-par 66 in the opening round of the U.S. Senior Open with envy, not because he couldn't shoot it, but because he played well enough to equal it and didn't.
|Larry Nelson was none too pleased with his performance Thursday.
Sorry putting and his sense of integrity were the culprits that contributed to Nelson shooting a 1-over-par 72 Thursday at Bellerive Country Club. Nelson, who won the 1983 U.S. Open, was as low as 3-under par on the day before watching it dissolve on Bellerive's large and conniving greens.
"I missed one green on the back nine and shot 4 over par," Nelson, 56, said, shaking his head. "Obviously, that's not the way to score on his golf course."
It didn't help that Nelson had to call a penalty on himself on the par-4 seventh hole, his 16th of the day. After hitting his 7-iron approach some 50 feet short of the hole, Nelson blasted his first putt 10 feet by, then his second two feet to the other side again. As he addressed the ball, it moved more than an inch. According to the Rules of Golf, Nelson had to replace his ball and then take a one-stroke penalty, leading to his second double-bogey on his second nine.
"There's nothing you can do about that. It happens maybe once a year or so," Nelson said with a shrug. "The lesson in there is that on a length of putt that you're lining up it's good to remark and make sure the ball is at rest. I didn't do that, and it was unfortunate."
Better that it happens in the first round than in the final round, however.
"There's a lot of golf left to make up for it," he agreed.
On Thursday Nelson, who has twice finished tied for seventh in the U.S. Senior Open, hit 10 fairways and 14 greens, but his 32 putts were corrosive to the scorecard.
"I did play really well," Nelson said. "You see the golf course was there to be had with what Craig did this morning (bettered by one shot by Peter Jacobsen in the afternoon). I enjoy playing this golf course, and I could have shot 4-5 under, but I turned it into a 72. I'm not pleased by that. But when I won at Oakmont (in the '83 Open), I think I made the cut by one shot. I know you have to be patient. I know how to be patient."