By Phillip Howley
Colorado Springs, Colo. - A bear ran across a couple of fairways at the The Broadmoor during the second round of the U.S. Senior Open. Of course, it wasn't the Bear, Jack Nicklaus. With his 18 major championships and two Senior Opens, the "Golden Bear" might be considered a threat to actually win the championship. The black bear spotted on Friday has no chance to win.
That said, the furry fairway crosser has one thing going for him where the championship is concerned, something such notable competitors as Ben Crenshaw, Allen Doyle, Peter Jacobsen, Sandy Lyle, Mark O'Meara, Craig Stadler and Curtis Strange don't have going.
That bear will still be around for the weekend.
The wicked greens on the East Course at The Broadmoor extracted a toll during the second of the championship, and the evidence was all over the scoreboard. While only four players who made the cut finished their rounds in red numbers on Thursday, only two leader Fred Funk and Eduard Romero were doubly red for both rounds.
Both Funk and Romero finished at 1-under-par 69, as Funk went to six under for the championship, two shots better than Romero. Only one more player Mark McNulty - managed to play the course to a par-70 draw.
"The greens are so severe," said McNulty, who went from five under for the championship to two under in a matter if three holes. "Most holes on this golf course, par is a great score, and you just move on quietly to the next hole."
No one knew the pain more than local favorite Mark Wiebe. In position to advance to the weekend. Wiebe bogeyed his last three holes Nos. 7, 8 and 9 to finish with a 74 and miss the cut by one. How tough was it out there?
"I bogeyed the last three holes and I can tell you that I don't think I missed a shot," said Wiebe. "I hit it great all day."
By the time the last green was misread and the last bogey was boxed, a score of eight over par was required to avoid a pink slip and secure a Saturday tee time. The high number rendered the 10-stroke Rule irrelevant the rule that allows players within 10 strokes of the lead to stick around. Turned out 12 strokes off the lead was solvent.
"The golf course is tough," said Tom Kite, who followed an opening 67 with a 71 and is four shots off the lead at two under. "This is a bit unusual golf course for the USGA, you know. I guess Oakland Hills (site of next week's PGA Championship) is probably the closest thing to this type of setup for the USGA championship.
"It's just difficult in a little bit different way, and you know, the difficulty is in getting it in the proper section of the green and then trying to negotiate all these severe slopes. You know, the altitude makes club selection a little bit of a guessing game and the mountain makes reading the putts a little bit of a guessing game."
With 62 players advancing, 91 guessed wrong too often during the initial 36 holes of the championship, including those luminaries heretofore mentioned. Two others Jesse Allen and Larry Laoretti were disqualified, while Tim Simpson withdrew.
Six of the 30 amateurs who started on Thursday made the grade, including Rick Cloninger, who is two over par and eight shots off the lead. Other amateurs making the cut were 1999 U.S. Mid-Amateur champ Danny Green (four over), Tom Doughtie (five over), 2007 U.S. Senior Amateur champ Stan Lee (seven over), Bob Stephens (seven over) and Bert Atkinson (seven over).
Phillip Howley is a freelance writer whose work has previously appeared on www.ussenioropen.com.