U.S. Senior Open champion Eduardo Romero capped his final press conference Sunday with two calls from those closest to him in the golfing world, the legendary Roberto De Vicenzo, who won the first Senior Open title in 1980, and 2007 U.S. Open winner Angel Cabrera, who called his friend while he was sitting at the interview table.
"All the people in the village are very excited," De Vicenzo told Romero in the call. "They are all celebrating."
'El Gato' Wins
Cabrera finished early in his PGA Tour event in Akron, Ohio, and couldn't stay to see his friend win, but called as soon as he heard the final result.
As he walked up the 18th fairway Sunday, fans gave Eduardo 'El Gato (The Cat)' Romero a raucous applause that perhaps could have been heard all the way back in Argentina. That's because the 54-year-old Cordoba native had his first major championship in his grip.
Romero got to the green, took off his hat in appreciation, bowed, and then promptly two-putted from 30-feet before raising his arms in victory. He shot 2-over 73, 6-under 274 for the championship, and finished four strokes ahead of Fred Funk.
"This is great for me," said Romero immediately after walking off the 18th green. "This day is finally coming true."
Said Funk: "I would have at least like to have made it close. ... If I made the putt on 14, it at least might have given me momentum."
Funk had missed a 5-footer and registered a bogey.
Romero said he realized that the title was on his mind on the the par-4 15th. Funk had lost four strokes due to a double bogey and bogey on the two previous holes that afforded Romero a safe lead.
Romero stumbled in after going as low as 10 under through 10 holes. He suffered four consecutive bogeys after that, but Funk's tumble helped.
A couple days ago Romero received a call of support from 2007 U.S. Open champion Angel Cabrera. The two have been close friends since Romero financially supported Cabrera as he made his way into the professional ranks.
Pulling For The Shark
This from our Fellow, Matt Keys:
A few Sundays ago, Greg Norman tried to capitalize on his improbable run to claim the Claret Jug for the third time in his career. On that day, some 5,000 miles from Royal Birkdale, I watched the broadcast from my living room and did my best to summon a supernatural power that would allow me to personally will Norman to victory – of course to no avail.
Milling about the East Course on this Sunday, I was hunting for a noteworthy story when I came upon Norman's group in the fairway of the sixth hole. Being a USGA employee, and donned in my USGA getup, I concertedly reminded myself that, in the final round of this USGA championship, I must maintain an impartial demeanor at all times.
Gripping the club with just his right hand, Norman methodically placed his wedge behind
the ball before fixing his feet in the desired position. He waggled the club three times - pausing momentarily between each - then crisply struck the ball and held his high finish. The ball landed 10 feet from the hole, and five minutes later, Norman walked off the green with his second consecutive birdie and an aggregate score of two under par, just six strokes off the lead.
I'll watch one more hole, I thought.
On the seventh teeing ground, he pounded a drive that arched down the fairway, finishing his stroke with his signature recoil. Whispers of, 'He can win this thing' began floating about the gallery. All pretenses were dropped, and I began racing, albeit unsuccessfully, 10-year-old kids down the fairway to claim a highly sought-after vantage point for his next shot.
On eight, he missed a 10-foot birdie putt. No damage done necessarily, and a probable birdie chance awaited on the par-5, ninth hole. But debauchery struck one again for the Shark. In the greenside bunker in two, Norman air-mailed his sand shot not just over the green, but over the heads in the gallery. A damaging bogey was the result. Following up this hole with bogeys on 10 and 12, Norman had officially taken himself out of the running. The contingent of Norman followers was emotionally deflated once again, and I myself returned to the clubhouse with slumped shoulders.
This certainly wasn't the '83 U.S. Open, the '86 PGA Championship, or the '96 Masters for Norman. It isn't a devastating defeat that will be highlighted for years. But even though Sunday was another disappointment for the Shark, his support from crowds around the world will continually remain steadfast, as demonstrated at this year's British Open and all this week in Colorado Springs. In victory or defeat (sometimes agonizing defeat), Norman doesn't waver from his cool, calm and collective demeanor.
The consummate professional, Norman never throws flack on anyone else's shoulders but his own for his shortcomings.
That is why this two-time British Open winner is a true champion in my book.Open Improvement
Mark McNulty wrapped up his best-ever finish in the U.S. Senior Open with a 2-under 68. He placed third at 1-under-par 279. His previous best was a tie for seventh in the 2005 Senior Open. In 12 appearences in the U.S. Open, he never recorded a top-10 finish.
"I thought I played well today, but just didn't do enough," he said.
John Cook said he was very disappointed following his fifth-place finish on Sunday after shooting a final-round 77, but he had a unique way to get over his depression.We Wait
"I'm going to Vegas Saturday night to see (Jerry) Seinfeld, so maybe that will get me laughing. But I'm very disappointed now," he said.
Looks like Eduardo Romero will be the second Argentinean champion in the Senior Open's history. He'll join Roberto De Vicenzo, who won the inaugural championship in 1980.
Naturally, as soon as I write that, Fred Funk pulled closer with a birdie on the par-4 17th. Still, he's three strokes back.
On a day when the 18th green yielded few birdies, one the biggest sources of excitement centered on players and caddies tossing balls in the grandstand as they entered the clubhouse tunnel . Of the participating players, only two, Loren Roberts and Hale Irwin, failed to clear the grandstand railing on the 18th green with their balls bouncing back onto the green.
Fred Funk is now on the ropes after absorbing a triple bogey on the par-4 13th. Funk drove into the left rough, hit a branch on his second shot and then was short of the green. He ultimately three-putted.
He helped little that Eduardo Romero bogeyed. He's four strokes up.
Romero Not Into Double Digits
And just as Eduardo Romero went to double digits, he fell back like a redwood tree in a California forest - if that makes sense. He's at nine under now. However, Fred Funk also bogeyed the 11th hole, so Romero is still three strokes up.
Romero Into Double Digits
I shouldn't say this, but game over? That's because Eduardo Romero just sank a tricky 22-footer on the 10th green to create a three-stroke cushion. When it dropped, Romero allowed for three animated fist pumps.
They Have Made The Turn
And, according to our Webmaster, Bill Lacey, "it's now basically match play golf." That was in reference to the top two players making the turn. Eduard Romero shot even-par 36 to stand at nine under while Fred Funk also shot the same.
Funk narrowly missed a 6-foot birdie putt on the ninth hole that would have pulled him one shot closer.
And We Are Back
Play has resumed. Officially at 1:17 p.m. MDT.
Play has been suspended due to a threatening weather situation. It was called at 12:53 MDT.
Romero Increases Lead
Eduardo Romero birdied his third hole and drop back to nine under. He's three strokes up on Fred Funk through five holes and five ahead of John Cook.
Greg Norman came out for the final round Sunday wearing a black shirt and a black hat. It seemed to match his mood as his putting woes continued. He missed a 7-foot birdie putt on the par-4 first hole and an uphill 15-foot birdie effort on the par-5 third hole. His sidehill birdie try on the par-3 fourth was his third miss of the day.
Both third-round leader Eduardo Romero and Fred Funk came out in light colors on Sunday. A white shirt with black sides for Romero and white hat. A light brown shirt for Funk with a light hat.Bogey Starts
An ominous beginning for Eduardo Romero (eight under) and Fred Funk (six under). Both bogeyed the first hole. Maybe they've had their eyes opened for bears.
Speaking of which, and to belabor the point, but it's been quite a week for the wildlife here. It makes one (ahem, me) a bit nervous while walking the course. It's been years since I took a bear-wrestling class, so I may be a bit rusty if the time comes.
Arkansas amateur Stan Lee was last in the U.S. Senior Open field after Saturday's third round, but he achieved a first on Sunday, playing by himself in a championship.
"I had never done that before. I felt kind of lost out there," said Lee, who shot a 5-over 75.
He did walk with non-competing marker David Delich, who kept him from being totally lonely. Delich picked up once, but completed the other 17 holes. The pair finished the round in a speedy time of 3:26.
"It's a wonderful course, but it's really more course than I have game," Lee added.
That Pesky Bear
A bear 'visited' the concession stand on the seventh hole last night and had a smorgasbord of candy bars, bananas, hot dogs and bread. It knocked over the cash register but did not destroy the tent, which will be operational today.
Former Senior Open champion Bruce Fleisher was disqualified after failing to sign his scorecard before leaving the scoring area. Now you know.
Third-round leader Eduardo Romero said he heard from countryman and 2007 U.S. Open Champion Angel Cabrera after Friday's second round, urging him to win the Senior Open on Sunday to complete the Argentina two-step.
"It would be a great combo for us,
for Argentina, for everyone,"
said Romero, who helped sponsor Cabrera in America.
said his friend had one other piece of advice for Sunday's final round.
"Go find the Argentine restaurant in town, have a big steak, get some sleep and practice lots before your round tomorrow. If I play like this, I think I've got it."
Getting It Right
"They got it right today. They had some good pins and it wasn't impossible like yesterday."
Romero In Driver's Seat
Romero, shooting 5-under 65, dropped to 9-under total for the championship. He's bidding to become the first Argentinean Senior Open champion since Roberto De Vicenzo won the inaugural event.
"I think so, I think so, I think so," said Romero when asked if winning Sunday would be his biggest career win. "It's my dream to win this event."
Romero has posted had three sub-par rounds. He credited it to his confidence on the green.
"I start two months ago with a belly putter," he said in broken English. "When I get to green, it's gone from a two- to a one-putt now."
Funk had a masterful par save on the final hole after deciding to lay up short of a pond that protects the green. He sank a 12-foot putt and raised his right arm in triumph.
"My ball game disappeared on the back nine," said Funk.
Catch The Spirit Junior Tent Thrives
From our esteemed USGA Fellow Matt Keys:
As the 50 and over group battles with the East Course, and each other, to claim victory this week, the Catch the Spirit Junior Tent is already winning in its own right.
This year marks the first that a Junior Tent has been
stationed on the grounds of a Senior Open for an entire week. And the children
of the Colorado Springsnoon
on Saturday, nearly 1,200 children had passed through the tent for the day, bringing
the weekly total up to nearly 5,200.
The Junior Tent, located on the first hole of The Broadmoor's West Course, offers myriad activities to encourage youngsters to participate in the game of golf. A full-swing hitting net, a chipping station and a putting green are available to allow kids to practice and fine-tune their games. Additionally, to satisfy the high-tech cravings for this Generation Z constituency, the Junior Tent includes a computer lab and a Nintendo Wii station (appropriately loaded with Wii Golf).
The Junior Tent is operated and managed by the USGA Grants and Fellowship Department located here in Colorado Springs. This department facilitates the "For the Good of the Game" grants initiative. Over the past 11 years, the USGA has awarded more than $62 million to junior golf programs that serve economically-disadvantaged and minority children, as well as programs that serve individuals with disabilities.
Additionally, the USGA Grants and Fellowship Department initiates a handful of local and national outreach programs to make the game more affordable and accessible, including the Catch the Spirit initiative.
Even when the last truck, packed with remnants of this year's Senior Open, heads back east, the presence of the USGA in Colorado Springs will remain steadfast.
Cook Hangs Around
Cook stayed in contention with a solid 4-under 66 and aggregate 6-under
204. He knocked in a 4-footer on the 18th hole for his sixth birdie.
"I played a nice back nine," said Cook. "It got me back in the championship."
Romero (eight under) missed a golden chance to increase his lead on the
par-4 17th hole, but he pushed a 5-footer wide. He stood one stroke
ahead of Fred Funk.
Funk Tumbles Out Of Lead
Funk bogeyed the par-3 12th. His iron shot off the tee fell short of
the green. He ultimately two-putted, knocking in a 4-footer. Eduardo
Romero is now the leader.
Logjam At The Top
we have a stalemate again. Fred Funk got in trouble on the 11th hole,
finding a right greenside bunker. He had a marvelous out, to 8 feet,
but couldn't convert the up and down.
circumstances for Romero, who is playing with Funk, were different. He
sank a 6-foot birdie putt from above the hole. Both were tied at nine
Finding out where a player
is from is not always as easy as looking on the pairing sheet or golf bag. Case
in point is Des Smyth, who has lived in Ireland his entire life and is the
head pro of a course there. He is now listed as being from White Oak, N.C., as the
result of a new marketing deal.
"It was an agreement I had to do," he said.
Mark McNulty, a native of Zimbabwe, now lists himself as from Ireland where he has distant family ties.
Things are going right for him. That was evidenced on the par-5 ninth hole when he drove into the first cut of rough, found a greenside bunker and wedged out to within 15 feet of the hole before nailing the putt.
Funk Goes Lower
Jeff Klein flirted with USGA 18-hole scoring history early Saturday, going to 8 under par after 14 holes before settling for a 6-under 64, the low round of the championship. But Klein said he was unaware of his record run.Klein Posts 6-Under Round
"I didn't know the record or I might have played it different. You never know though."
His local caddie, James Nagel, said he knew his player was closing in on Loren Roberts' Senior Open mark of 62.
"We didn't talk scores out there, but you have eyes, you can see," said Nagel.
Getting as low as eight under in the third round, Jeff Klein bogeyed the the 18th hole and posted a 6-under 64. The performance moved him into the top 10. He said the key was registering five one-putts on his first five holes.
The round, which featured eight birdies and six through his first nine holes, began with Klein at 6-over 146.
"I didn't see it coming, that's for sure," said Klein, playing in his first Senior Open.
In current action, Fred Funk birdied the par-4 fifth hole and stands at eight under, two strokes ahead of Eduardo Romero.
Funk All Alone
Fred Funk and Eduardo Romero dipped to seven under, but the tie didn't last long. Romero bogeyed the par-3 fourth hole to fall off the pace.
Tom Kite has entered into the mix after birdieing the third and fourth holes to get to five under.
Romero Grabs Share Of Lead
Call it the kiss of death but Jeff Klein just bogeyed - just as soon as we gave him his props. Still, seven under through 16 holes isn't too shabby.
At the other end of the course, it didn't take long for Eduardo Romero to catch Fred Funk. The Argentinean birdied his first two holes to drop to six under. Funk parred his first two.
Well, Jeff Klein is having the round of the day. Beginning the day 6-over 146, Klein is 8-under through 14 holes. He leapfrogged many a players, all the way to sixth, where he now stands.
The leaders have just gone off.
Lots Of Ice Cream
Hope you're sitting down because this may alter your life. According to an ice cream vendor, since Monday 14,562 ice cream bars have been consumed by the volunteers in the volunteer hospitality.
Bear Tale Continued
It's been all over the news now, but in case you missed it, a bear bolted across the 13th fairway Friday. ESPN-NBC announcer Dottie Pepper had a firsthand look because the bear briefly headed toward her while she was covering Bernhard Langer.
Pepper enjoyed a dinner with her colleagues after Friday's second round, but said she was shaken by her up close and personal encounter with the bear. Asked what came to mind when she saw the confused bear headed in her direction, Pepper said only one word. "Large."
Fellow announcer Roger Maltbie said Pepper made the right decision to quickly leave her post during the Friday bear sighting. "The only part of me the bear would have seen was my backside headed out of the area," he said.
Tidbits From Friday's Round
Fred Funk's 6-under-par 134 is the second-lowest 36-hole total in Senior Open history. ..... in the first round there were 14 sub-par scores. Only five sub-par rounds were recorded in the second round.
This submitted by USGA Fellow Matt Keys:
"Excuse me sir, may I see your badge please?" asked a woman donned in a lime-green shirt.
A few moments after verifying my right to be on the grounds,
I was politely met by individuals dressed in nearly identical garment. In fact,
in every pocket of people milling about the East Course, you're bound to notice
a sprinkle of lime. And thankfully too. These
individuals are volunteers, and their support is crucial to the success of this
Simply being around the game provides enough motivation for some volunteers to donate their time, including Ron Paolucci, a high-school math teacher and volunteer in Spectator Services.
"I watched [Ben] Crenshaw and [Tom] Watson since I was a kid, and it is great to still see them playing," said Paolucci.
For others, volunteering is a way of life.
"I work with volunteers in my day job, so I thought this
would be a good fit. Everyone's been so
nice, that my husband and I have already signed up for the 2009 Senior Open in
Still for others, the Senior Open has proven to be an annual bonding ground.
"We have three guys here this week that met while volunteering in the Senior Open back in 2005. Since then, they haven't missed one. It's great to hear stories like that," said Jeff Yeager, Volunteer Manager this week.
On a separate note, Jesse Allen was disqualified for signing a wrong scorecard.
No Moves On Funk
Through his first nine holes, Eduardo Romero stood three under par. John Cook also was at three under, but had only played eight holes.They're Out
and Larry Laoretti
are out of the championship.
Disqualification for signing an incorrect score card is covered under Rule 6-6d:
The competitor is responsible for the correctness of the score recorded for each hole of his score card. If he returns a score for any hole lower than actually taken, he is disqualified. If he returns a score for any hole higher than actually taken, the score as returned stands.
Laoretti had shot 81 (+11) in the first round before his disqualification.
As for Simpson, he withdrew because of a pulled muscle in his rib area. He was scheduled to start the second round at 2:40 p.m. MDT from the 10th tee with Keith Fergus and Bobby Wadkins.Funk Weathers Early Storm
Count it as Fred Funk's strange path to a 1-under 69 on Friday. In what began as a potentially horrific round, Funk redeemed himself after his eighth hole. To that point he had three bogeys and five pars. Then he got hot. Over his final 10 holes, Funk shot four under par and leads the championship at 6-under total.
"I was fighting it on the greens a little but but who isn't doing that?" said Funk afterward. "I feel like I can make three or four birdies a day."
Saying he felt pain-free for the first time in two years as he headed toward the range to warm up, Funk ironically felt a twinge in his neck that bothered him throughout the round.
In relation to others in the clubhouse from the morning wave, Funk stood four strokes ahead of Mark McNulty (68-70-138) and Tom Kite (67-71-138).
McNulty suffered a double bogey on the 18th green.
"Mistakes happen in this game. What's past is past," said McNulty. "It's very tricky. These are the toughest greens I've seen in championship golf."
Added Kite: The golf course is hard, holy smokes .... The USGA put some pin placements out there that defy imagination."
McNulty In Clubhouse
Uh oh, Mark McNulty stumbled - hard. It came at a horrible time too. On his final hole, he three-putted from 12 feet to register a double bogey and fall out of the co-lead. Fred Funk has parred five straight holes to maintain his 5-under score.
McNulty's balky putter epitomized how brutal these greens can be. Well, the combination of the shaky putter and hard greens attributed to his fall. He registered an even-par 70 and sits at 2-under total.
McNulty Grabs Share Of Lead
Mark McNulty birdied the 14th hole, so that means he has caught Fred Funk. McNulty has never finished better than seventh in four U.S. Senior Opens.
And the bear sightings continue.
Hale Irwin, a former University of Colorado football star, knows the East Course better than most players this week, but it didn't help him avoid the
quarterly Broadmoor chimes that sound loudly on a regular basis.
Irwin was at
the top of his backswing on the par 4 first hole Friday when the chimes sounded.
He was startled and it caused him to jerk his drive left into the rough, just 20
yards from the tee, nearly hitting a tree. He was able to recover for par on the
hole and then birdied the next two
holes. Our Rules staff blogged about the incident too.
We're receiving quite a show today. Two bears have been spotted on the course. One ran across a fairway and another was outside of the ropes. Spectators stood in shock, none budging an inch.
Funk Has Spunk
Apologies. Been somewhat derelict in the duties. Went on the course to take in some of the action. In that time, Fred Funk turned in a 2-over 36 on his first nine, but then got hot. He birdied Nos. 2 and 3 to climb back to five under.
At one point Mark McNulty got as low as five under until bogeying the par-4 11th. Tom Kite has been the steadiest of the bunch, maintaining his three-under score through 14 holes.
The Broadmoor giveth and taketh away. After a solid round Thursday, Fred Funk has hit a bump. Consecutive bogeys on Nos. 11 and 12 has dropped him to three under. Tom Kite and Mark McNulty were also three under.
The official word just came down: the green speeds are measuring 11.7 on the Stimpmeter. Sixteen greens only needed one cut to achieve this speed. The other two were double cut to attain this speed. No greens were rolled this morning.
So there you have it.
A bogey on No. 11, just his second of the championship, dropped Fred Funk to four under. After Thursday's round, he reflected on what will make a champion at the challenging Broadmoor.
"I think the guys that are playing their best this week are really going to be the guys that show up on top of the leaderboard," he said. "There are not going to be too many guys that are going to fake it around here and scramble their butt off because it's too hard to make the 5- and 6-footers."
Juan Quiros bogeyed No. 5 to fall back. First-round leader Fred Funk began his day with a par on the 10th hole, his first of the day.
Quiros Making Noise
Diminutive Spaniard Juan Quiros has charged up the leaderboard, riding consecutive birdies on holes three and four to an aggregate four under par. Quiros is playing in his first U.S. Senior Open.
Pace Of Play
Good morning campers,
We have started in earnest again. Something of note from yesterday, just in case you care about this sort of thing:
Yesterday's pace of follow is as follows, according to an official:
Expected pace - 4:32
Average for the day - 4:50
Quickest group - 4:36
Slowest group - 5:09 (the only group over 5 hours)
Funk The Outright Leader After First RoundFred Funk is the first-round leader after shooting an impressive 5-under 65. Until the 18th hole, he had played bogey-free.
"It didn't feel good to bogey 18," said Funk, who spen three-and-a-half hours stretching Thursday morning.
Someone asked if he ran out of gas.
"I have plenty of energy. I'm not that old," he quipped.
Tom Kite, who walked into the clubhouse with a 3-under 67, credited Funk with a masterful round.
"Obviously you're trying to play some nice golf. Freddy's playing well ... and he'll be tough to catch," said Kite.
Kite was yet another player to comment on the difficulty of the greens, saying "These would be difficult if they were at sea level."
Everyone Still Following FunkAnd the 52-year-old Fred Funk is king still. He now birdied the par-4 17th hole to drop to six under.
Everyone Following Funk
52-year-old Fred Funk is king - for now. He birdied the par-3 16th hole
to drop to five under. In his only Senior Open appearance in 2006, Funk
Battling The Elements
This from inimitable USGA Fellow Matt Keys:
The East Course at The Broadmoor may not be regularly susceptible to the truculent winds that tormented golf balls the past two weeks at the British Open and Senior British Open. Instead, players contending in this week's U.S. Senior Open will square off against a more inconspicuous force to human senses: elevation.
Colorado Springs is elevated more than 6,000 feet above sea level, or more than 800 feet higher than the "Mile High City" of Denver – the neighboring town to the north.
At this elevation, players must take into account the thinner Colorado air before conceding to a club selection, lest havoc be wreaked on their chances of claiming the Francis Ouimet Memorial Trophy at week's end. Even on level ground in these Rockies, a listed distance of 150 yards could easily play to 135 yards or less. And as a day matures, the guessing game becomes more difficult.
"In the morning, the ball travels not like it would at sea level, but not quite as much as what you figure," said John Cook. "But once it warms up and the sun comes out, you can actually put the ball in the air, and it will go."
Colorado Springs native R.W. Eaks viewed his Friday afternoon tee time as a welcomed opportunity after shooting a disappointed, but not damaging, 2-over 72 on Thursday morning. "The ball definitely goes farther in the afternoon," said Eaks. "If I can hit it farther than someone else, I get pretty excited."
What's worse for players is that the altitude doesn't just affect approach shots. It's also an element that sharpens the incisors of the East Course – each of its 18 undulating greens. As the temperature rises throughout the day, the moisture is the bowel of every green is evaporated at a quicker pace in high altitude than at sea level. Less moisture, as any golfer fears, produces lightening-quick greens.
"The speed of the green's this morning were slower than I expected because they weren't dried out," said Dave Delich, an amateur and citizen of Colorado Springs whose carnal knowledge of the course could not prevent him from shooting a pedestrian 76 during the first round of play.
Throw in the fact that the course is located on the
side of a mountain, and even the novice to the golf community can understand
why it truly is a test of golf suitable for the greatest players in the world.
Funk Rolling Along
Fred Funk continues to play bogey-free golf. He's four under through 13 holes. After carding an eagle on the third hole, Mark McNulty fell to three under where he remains through 15 holes.
Incidentally, there have been seven eagles registered on the par-5 third hole.
Curtis Strange shot 78 in Thursday's first round, but it still beats the last time he played in an event at The Broadmoor East Course, on Sept. 11, 2001. Strange was playing in a private client outing the day of the national terrorist attacks. He was standing in the Broadmoor golf shop watching the TV when the World Trade Towers collasped in New York City.
"It's something you never forget," he said.
The U.S. Ryder Cup captain at the time, Strange got in a car after his event and drove from Colorado Springs to St. Louis for a World Golf Championship event that wound up being canceled.
Jacobsen Moving Up
Another former Senior Open champion, namely Peter Jacobsen , has quietly moved up the leaderboard. After an eagle on the par-5 third hole, he parred his next four holes. Fred Funk has continued his stellar play, standing four under through eight holes.
Hot Start For Funk
It didn't take long for Fred Funk to catch leader John Cook. Funk carded an eagle and two birdies through his first five holes to stand at four under par.
Greg Norman (even-par 70) echoed what many players have been saying as they've come off the East Course today: the greens are puzzling. Getting a proper read been a challenge. Too many putts are off by one or two balls.
"I've started to read the green more than the slope," said Norman.
The other issue playing mind tricks is the altitude.
"It's a mental mind drain," added Norman. "You're asking yourself, 'Is [the shot] 15 percent, 18 percent, 20 percent [more with the altitude]? You just can't used to it."
What's more, it's causing havoc with distance. "It puts you off by 4 or 5 yards and to us that's a lot," said Norman.
John Cook, appearing in his first U.S. Senior Open, managed his way to a 4-under 66 and holds the outright lead. Coming off a disappointing playoff loss to Bruce Vaughan at the Senior Open Championship last week, Cook tried to put it out of his head and focus on the major at hand.
"Monday was tough," said Cook. "Tuesday wasn't any easier. ... You have to grieve a little bit. But you also have to bring that momentum here. There's another week, another major."
Cook carded five birdies and hit all of his fairways in regulation.
Colorado Heat Vs. Texas Heat
This submission comes from freelance writer Art Stricklin:
It didn't take Texans Tom Kite or Ben Crenshaw long to figure out the difference between Colorado heat and Texas heat before teeing off in Thursday's first round.
"In Texas, they tell you it's hot and it's hot," said
Austin, Texas native Tom Kite. "In Colorado, they tell you
it's cool and it's hot. Are Colorado people lying to you?"
Turning to his fellow Austin native Crenshaw, Kite asked if is it hot to him.
"Yeah, it's hot," Crenshaw answered.Eaks In
R.W. Eaks finished with a pedestrian 2-over 72. He didn't seem fazed, nor does he feel any added pressure because of his local ties. He admitted he saw many familiar faces.
"I had a lot of opportunities today," he said. "All in all, it wasn't bad. They didn't have much to clap for."
The same couldn't be said for Morris Hatalsky. He put on a dazzling putting display coming in. On No. 8, he nailed a 35-footer for birdie. Then on No. 9, he came in strong with the 5-foot birdie.
"It was better than good," said Hatalsky of his putting.
Cook's Kitchen: All By Himself
Conditions aren't exactly benign, but the course is beginning to yield red numbers. Despite a stiff breeze, John Cook broke a three-way stalemate with a birdie on No. 7 to drop to four under. Eduardo Romero and Mick Soli were one stroke back.
When Morris Hatalsky dropped in a right-to-left, 5-foot birdie putt on No. 18, he walked into the clubhouse with a 67.
Soli's Eagle Helps Grab Share Of Lead
Eduardo Romero headed into the homestretch at three under par. However, Mick Soli carded an eagle on the par-5 third hole to catch him.
Romero Holding Steady
Eduardo Romero slipped on the par-5 third hole, missing an opportunity to birdie. However, he couldn't get up and down from the right greenside rough before two-putting. In the meantime, John Cook caught Romero with a short birdie putt on the same hole.
From our media relations department, who were so kind to share:
Steve Heckel withdrew at 10:35 a.m. Thursday due to arthritis complications.
The alternate who will take his place is Chick Berry of Alpharetta, Ga., who competed in sectional qualifying on July 1 in Jasper, Ala. Berry, an amateur, shot a 70 at Musgrove Country Club to earn the first alternate position.
Berry will take a spot in the 1:20 p.m. group on the first hole, joining past Senior Open champions Dave Eichelberger of Honolulu, Hawaii (1999) and Dale Douglass of Castle Rock, Colo. (1986).Morgan Falls
Gil Morgan toppled out of the lead with back-to-back bogeys on the 10th and 11th holes. Meanwhile, Greg Norman closed out his front nine with a 1-under 35. He was tied with six others. On the par-4 10th, he missed an 80-foot birdie putt.
'El Gato' Not So Gracious
And just as soon as I write that Romero takes the lead, Romero stumbles with a bogey on No. 18, his ninth hole of the day. Remember, they're using the two-tee start. Gil Morgan is also at two under, followed by a slew of players one stroke behind.
'El Gato' In The Lead
Eduardo Romero, known as 'El Gato' (The Cat) for his stealthy way of overtaking opponents, rode consecutive birdies into the overall lead. He's one stroke ahead of John Cook and Gil Morgan. Romero, as some of you may remember, led after the first round last year at The Straits Course at Whistling Straits. He carved out a nifty 6-under-par 66. His six-under-par round was one shy of the U.S. Senior Open record for lowest score under par in a first round (Craig Stadler, 2005; R.W. Eaks 2002; and Bruce Fleisher 2000). He entered the second round with a three-stroke lead.
Crammed At The Top
John Cook, Wayne Grady, Gil Morgan and Eduardo Romero shared the lead at two under par. With a bogey on the eighth hole, Mark James fell off a stroke.
Cook Moves Into Tie
And R.W. Eaks tumbles after suffering a bogey on No. 6. He fell one stroke off the pace. Now John Cook, Mark James and Gil Morgan hold the lead at two under par. Cook, who turned 50 last October, is making his first Senior Open appearance. His name has been mentioned among media members as a favorite. Not a bad choice.
Eaks, James Equal
Local native R.W. Eaks caught Mark James for the lead at two under par. Perhaps Eaks' local knowledge of the East Course is paying dividends? He caddied here as a kid and then joined the grounds crew later. His job? To cut holes and, ahem, eradicate gophers. He's estimated that he's played the course about 200 times. Not all of those times were legal, though.
And Mark James separates himself from the field - sort of. He dropped to two under with a birdie on his third hole. Fives others were one stroke behind.
Just as an FYI, here is how the course is setting up today:
The greens are rolling 11.7 on the Stimpmeter. No greens were rolled this morning.
Corrective watering was done this morning to all putting greens and last night to fairways. The USGA anticipates applying a light "cooling syringe" to all putting greens (and possibly fairways) between the morning and afternoon waves and later in the afternoon during play to putting greens warranting such.
Mark James, Rick Karbowski and Gil Morgan were tied at one under par in the early going. Karbowski, 53, finished 62nd in the 2005 championship, the only time he's been in the event.
Slow Out Of The Gate
Five players shared the early lead at even par Thursday morning. Two of those, Lee Booker and Dave Delich, are amateurs playing in their first Senior Open. Delich is an interesting story. He played college hockey at Colorado and ended up as the school's all-time leading scorer. Maybe more impressive was that he was a a tangential part of the 1980 USA men's hockey team that won the gold medal in the Winter Olympics. Delich never dressed, but was ready to play if an injury occurred.
| And this submission comes via our intern, Kent Zakour:
At the practice range today on the Broadmoor's West Course a youthful presence was felt as many families and children turned out for Military Family Day.
Spectators were entertained with a variety of events including watching the likes of Greg Norman and Hale Irwin complete their practice rounds and The Dennis Walters Golf Show. However, the highlight of the day was the Wings of Blue Parachute Team's performance.
Five U.S. Air Force Academy instructors touched down perfectly after jumping from their airplane circling 4,500 feet above the practice range.
The instructors were able to maneuver through the air with ease in the canopy stack formation and avoid golf balls being hit by players practicing for the Senior Open that begins tomorrow.
After landing to an appreciative crowd, the officers invited all the children in the audience to help them pack up their parachutes.
Two siblings, Levi, 6, and Avery, 8, have a grandfather who was a colonel in the Air Force. They were among the youngsters helping out.
"I can't believe he did that!" exclaimed an excited Avery after she talked to one of the jumpers. "I want to be a famous author and basketball player, but I want to jump out of planes too!"
Her brother, Levi, also desires to be in the Air Force if his dream of being a "championship" golfer does not work out. Levi offered this piece of advice to the Air Force instructors on future aerial maneuvers.
"Don't land in a tree," he said.