Omaha sporting 'U.S. Open feel' - Omaha.com
Published Wednesday, July 10, 2013 at 12:01 am / Updated at 8:56 pm
U.S. Senior Open
Omaha sporting 'U.S. Open feel'

Many aspects of the Omaha Country Club scream U.S. Open — the rough, the greens, the galleries.

Especially the rough. And it's not the U.S. Open that starts Thursday, but the U.S. Senior Open.

“The rough is very penal out there. It's chipout rough,” Kenny Perry said. “It's definitely set up for ... it's got definitely a U.S. Open feel, with the greens as small as they are and undulating.”

Bernhard Langer was using superlatives to describe Easter egg hunting in the 4-inch high Kentucky bluegrass and fescue.

“The rough is as bad as I've seen it anywhere in the world. Worse than anywhere in the world, I mean,” the two-time Masters champion said. “Sometimes we couldn't see the ball from 3 feet away. You know it went right in here, and you're looking, and you're walking from here to there, and you can't see the ball. That tells you how much it's sitting down.

“I've hit a couple of shots out of there, and some of the lies, I couldn't move it more than 25, 30 yards, hitting it as hard as I can. So it's just very demanding off the tee.”

It's also very demanding on and around Omaha Country Club's tiny greens, every one elevated on a par 4 or 5, full of subtle breaks, with gnarly rough surrounding them.

COURSE GUIDE: U.S. SENIOR OPEN
See hole illustrations, insight from course pros, photos and video from every hole and more in our Senior Open course guide.

“If it firms up, these greens don't like long clubs,” Rocco Mediate said. “They get very angry if you try to hit 3-irons to them.”

Have we yet mentioned the course's hills?

“I told somebody yesterday this is probably the hardest walking course I've ever been on,” Perry said. “I played the (PGA) Tour 27 years and a couple of years out here, and it's the hilliest.”

The galleries are expected to be the largest at any U.S. Senior Open since Des Moines in 1999.

“They should be here for this,” Mediate said. “If I had my choice and I was a spectator, would I want to go watch the other guys, or would I want to go watch my heroes? I'm picking heroes every time.

“You go watch Mr. (Tom) Watson play or Mr. (Hale) Irwin play, they haven't lost a lot. If you look at these guys, I would watch them every single day of the week if I had my choice. I actually do sometimes.

“They're the best that ever walked on grass that played golf still.”

Who's going to win, and with what score? Not losing a drop of ice cream in Tuesday's heat was easier than answering those questions.

“The way this course is playing, and the difficulty of it, under par will be a very good score over the four days,” Colin Montgomerie said. “There's a more physical element that comes into the Senior Open than it does in the regular U.S. Open, and four rounds around here will play its part, no question.

More coverage

Find the latest stories, a live leader board, photo showcases, Twitter updates and more on Omaha.com/senior-open.
Click here »

“Some of the guys 55 to 60 will be glad that the 72nd hole is upon them, and nearer 50, I'll be glad alongside them.”

Gary Koch, an NBC Sports golf analyst who's also playing in the tournament, is among those who project 8 under as a target score.

“There's some guys out here who play some very, very good golf,” Koch said. “I played with Bernhard Langer a couple times earlier this week and he's playing very well. Tom Lehman is a great ball striker. It's going to favor a guy like that, with the rough the way it is and a premium on hitting the ball in the fairway.”

Langer, Couples and Mediate also would take four rounds of 2-under 68.

“It all depends on the wind, I suppose, but even when there's no wind, I can't see too many 64s, 65s out here,” Langer said. “Even par is never a bad score in a U.S. Open or Senior Open.

“If somebody gets really hot because the greens might not get to the speed where they might want them, there might be a chance that a couple of guys finish under par, maybe 6 to 8 under. I'm not sure. I'm not a prophet.”

Couples guessed that 8 under “probably won't win.”

“but I'll take it right now,” he said, “and I'll sit in my room and watch TV for four days.

“I think there may be somebody 7 or 8 under after the first two rounds, but it's a lot like some of the old courses, like Westchester. Guys would shoot 63, 68, and then they'd shoot 70, 71 on the weekend and still win. This is that kind of course. It's going to toughen up. But 8 under is very good.”

Said Mediate: “I don't have any idea how to handicap this thing, but I would say I would take 2 under a day and just sit in the clubhouse and laugh. If the greens firm up a teeny-weeny bit, then we've got a ballgame.”

What could stymie many hopes this week is the 10th hole, which is a par 4 instead of a par 5. The United States Golf Association had OCC remove a left greenside bunker when it requested the change to give the field of 156 a fighting chance for par.

“Ten is going to change the face of this golf tournament, I assure you, either good or bad, because they're going to play that tee on top, it looks like, the whole time,” Mediate said. “It's downhill. So you get a 3-wood, and then you have 215 to the hole, and that green doesn't like hybrids as a par 4.”

Koch, the NBC analyst, said it's one of the hardest par 4s he's tackled.

“It's very difficult to figure out how to play it,” he said. “If you make two 4s and two 5s there (for the week), you're probably even with everybody in the field.”

The 10th begins a back nine that includes two short par 4s and a par 5 that could see some eagles.

“With the elevation change and the little valleys here and there,” the USGA's Jeff Hall said, “I know we're going to hear some wonderful roars.

“There's going to be just some great opportunities on the back nine. There's some very stern holes and some where you can catch up ... but can lose ground, as well.”

Contact the writer: Stu Pospisil

stu.pospisil@owh.com    |   402-444-1041    |  

Stu Pospisil has been The World-Herald's lead writer for high school sports since 1990 and for golf since 1988. He primarily covers football in the fall, basketball and wrestling in the winter and track and field in the spring.

ON TWITTER »

TODAY'S LOCAL SCOREBOARD
Friday's Top Events
PCL baseball
Omaha 3, Round Rock 2
College baseball
Creighton 12, Villanova 6
UNO 4, Bradley 2
Northwestern 2, Nebraska 1

Game Time, TV/Radio Schedule
Friday's Area Events
Friday's TV/Radio Schedule
Saturday's Area Events
Saturday's TV/Radio Schedule

College Results
Baseball
Softball
Tennis

Prep Results
NEPrepZone.com (mobile)

Others
Signings
Holes in One
Dog Racing Results
Horse Racing Entries, Horse Racing Results
VIDEO »
Deadline Deal thumbnail
The Jaipur in Rockbrook Village
Half Off Fine Indian Cuisine & Drinks! $15 for Dinner, or $7 for Lunch
Buy Now
PHOTO GALLERIES »
< >
SPOTLIGHT »
Blog: Dirk's 'Mad Chatter'
Dirk Chatelain offers his thoughts on the latest news from around the sports world, complete with links to the best articles, opinion columns, YouTube videos and more.
Civic Auditorium Timeline
World-Herald columnist Tom Shatel asked readers for their favorite memories of the Civic Auditorium. We combined their submissions with a few key events or moments in the auditorium's history.
CWS: Banner Years
The College World Series historical database, a growing home for historical information about past NCAA baseball championships, which have been played in Omaha since 1950.
Downtown Omaha event map
Discover the area surrounding the CenturyLink Center, TD Ameritrade Park and downtown Omaha -- including restaurants, arts & entertainment venues, hotels and local retail outlets.
Facebook: Tom Shatel's page
Get Tom Shatel's sports columns delivered straight to your Facebook feed.
Follow Tom Shatel on Twitter
Get instant analysis and commentary from World-Herald columnist Tom Shatel on Twitter.
Nebraska high school basketball's greatest night
Four elite teams. Two buzzer-beaters. One packed house. On March 11, 1989, the stars aligned and produced the best night in Nebraska high school basketball history.
Shatel's blog
Check out the latest from World-Herald sports columnist Tom Shatel.
Shatel: Tom's Take on 20 Unforgettable Years in Sports
Get World-Herald columnist Tom Shatel's book "Shatel: Tom's Take on 20 Unforgettable Years in Sports."
Super Bowl: Through the years
The Super Bowl is a yearly media madhouse. See how The World-Herald sports section's front pages portrayed each of the Super Bowl victories won by those players celebrated in our Mt. Rushmore of Super Bowl QBs.
Talk sports with World-Herald reporters
World-Herald reporters log on to talk about the latest news surrounding the Huskers, Jays, Mavericks, high schools sports and more. Check out the upcoming chat schedule or replay the latest discussions with the fans.
The disappearance of small-town football
Friday night lights across rural Nebraska are going dark. But one town, in its last season of gridiron independence, proved that school spirit is stronger than ever.
The Nebraska 100
In an historic 2005 series, The World-Herald selected the state’s all-time top 100 athletes. In a new web exclusive, see the digitized collection for the first time.
2013 college football preview
View our 2013 college football preview, a 26-page, three-part section filled with coverage of the Huskers, Big Ten conference and more.
Big Red Bowl Retrospective
See complete historical results, game recaps and photo coverage from the Nebraska Cornhuskers college football bowl game appearances, from the 1941 Rose Bowl up to today.
WORLD-HERALD ALERTS »
Want to get World-Herald stories sent directly to your home or work computer? Sign up for Omaha.com's News Alerts and you will receive e-mails with the day's top stories.
Can't find what you need? Click here for site map »