Mark Calcavecchia had a hot start last week at the Senior British Open and led after the first two days only to fade in the last two rounds.
Calcavecchia was cruising at 10 under with six holes remaining in his third round in England before he imploded with a triple bogey. Russ Cochran surpassed Calcavecchia to win by two strokes on Sunday.
Thursday, the popular golfer got off to another solid start in the first round of the U.S. Senior Open at Inverness Club with a 3-under, 68.
Calcavecchia enters Friday’s second round in seventh place, four shots off the lead. He said he did not allow any carryover to affect him Thursday.
“I was disappointed for maybe an hour,” he said. “Second wasn’t too bad in that case. I came over here and it was a long trip. But I had good start today.”
Calcavecchia teed off on the front nine at 2:05. He carded two birdies and was 2-under at the turn. He then record two more birdies at No. 12 and 13 to go to 4-under. But he then bogeyed No. 15.
Calcavecchia said he was able to read the greens well, which said were maybe the slowest he has ever played on.
“It’s a fun little course to play,” he said.
He also said the course played a little short. “It’s still tricky though,” he said.
Calcavecchia said he managed to play 18 holes at Inverness on Tuesday.
“[Wednesday], I just took it easy and laid around all morning. I don’t feel jet lagged or tired physically,” Calcavecchia said.
Calcavecchia won the British Open in 1989 and was attempting to become the fourth player to capture the British Open double last week. He took the lead on the front nine on the final day, but had a four-putt double-bogey on No. 9 and ended at 10-under-par 278. Cochran finished at 12-under.
“Russ was six under through 10, got off to a hot start and just coasted in,” Calcavecchia said.
TOUGH START: Tom Savoy, who was born in Toledo, is tied for 90th place after the first round.
Savoy, who moved from the area when he was an infant, started on the difficult back nine in the late afternoon and finished with a 75.
Savoy struggled with a double bogey at No. 14 and then followed that with three straight bogeys on holes 15, 16, and 17.
But he recovered with a birdie on No. 2 and finished with pars over the rest of the holes to finish plus-4.
MINUS THREE: One of the points of interest in the 2011 Senior Open was the expected return of five players who had won major championships through the years at Inverness Club.
It didn’t exactly come off as planned. Paul Azinger (1993 PGA Championship) withdrew early in the week while both Craig Stadler (1973 U.S. Amateur) and Bruce Lietzke (2003 Senior Open) withdrew Thursday.
Stadler withdrew before the start of the round due to a back muscle ailment and Lietzke, who said in a press conference Wednesday that he was having issues with his right shoulder, tried to play, but withdrew after 13 holes at 8 over par.
So, the Fab Five turned into the Trusty Two. Hale Irwin, the 1979 U.S. Open champ on the Dorr Street course, shot an opening-round 69, two under par, while Bob Tway (’86 PGA Championship) carded a 73.
INEVITABLE: Jim Thorpe agreed that Inverness played softer and shorter and that greens had been dialed back during Thursday’s first round. Credit nature for the first, the USGA for the second, and a combination of both for the third.
Thorpe had no problem with the latter.
“We found the greens not as fast as we normally find Open greens, but because they have so much undulation I don’t think they should let them get much faster,” he said.
Thorpe carded a 68, four shots off the lead, despite a double bogey at the par-3 12th hole.
“I hit a 7-iron in the water,” he said. “I’m going to go home and have a talk with that club. We waited 20 minutes on the tee and I made a bad swing.”
HOLE TRUTH: There were no surprises on the toughest and easiest of holes during Thursday’s first round. The par-4 16th hole, a 476-yarder, surrendered just one birdie (Jim Carter), 84 pars and 70 scores of bogey or worse. The easiest was the par-5 4th hole, just 511 yards, where eight eagles and 57 birdies were scored. There was only one score on that hole higher than bogey.
MEMORY LOSS: Bernhard Langer, the defending Senior Open champion, appeared before the media after his round and was asked to review it.
“Sure, I’ll try to,” he said. “I have a hard time remembering these holes. They all look alike.”
MIRACULOUS ROUND: Even with a 3-under 68, Jeff Sluman may have been the happiest person on the course Thursday with his score.
“I shot 3-under, and if you watched me it probably looked more like 80,” Sluman joked. “I played just pathetic off the tee.”
Sluman hit just 47 percent of his drives into the fairway and was 2-over through seven holes after starting on the back nine.
But he managed to sink three straight birdies in the middle of his round and closed with a 3-under 34 on the front nine.
“A miracle,” Sluman said. “Oh, yeah, it was unbelievable. I really could have shot 80. I just hit it all over the parking lot.”
GIMMIES: Browne’s 64 was his career low round on the Champions Tour and tied for lowest first round ever at a Senior Open, matching Bruce Fleisher (2000), R.W. Eaks (2002) and Craig Stadler (2005). … Thirty-five golfers finished under-par in the first round, tying the Senior Open record set at Crooked Stick in 2009.
SINDELAR 69: Joey Sindelar spent the first day playing in a group that included Russ Cochran, who claimed the 2011 British Senior Open on Sunday.
Playing alongside a recent major championship winner could have played a role in Sindelar going out and shooting 2-under par 69 for the first round.
The Ohio State graduate came out and posted five birdies and two bogeys while playing in the group with Cochran and Eduardo Romero.
“I probably got just what I deserved,” Sindelar said, of his play in the first round. “There were a lot of very good shots and there were three or four stinkers. I was a little sloppy occasionally. I made a couple of putts. I didn’t make every thing, but made a couple.
“I think anytime you’re playing in the U.S. Open and you’re [scoring] in the 60s, I think you have to walk away at least partially happy.”
Sindelar finished the first round at Inverness reflecting on a couple of specific holes.
“I bogeyed 18 and you don’t want to do that,” Sindelar said. “I hit a really good drive on No. 8 – my next to the last hole — and got it all the way down the hill and only had a 5-iron to the green and didn’t birdie that. On the negative side, that wasn’t any fun.
“On the other hand, I made a 15-footer — making my turn — on No. 1 for birdie and probably a 20-footer on No. 2 for birdie. Those kinds of things get you stepping a little more quickly and makes it more fun.”
Sindelar also embraced the chance to play in the group that included a recent majors champion.
“I couldn’t wait to shake his hand and congratulate him,” Sindelar said, referring to Cochran. “He played great and you could see why. He hit the ball virtually down the fairway and the green every time. He only missed the two or three fairways and two or three greens and burned the cup all day long. I think he shot 1-under and I think he could have been two or three or four shots better pretty easy.”
— Mark Monroe, Donald Emmons, and Zach Silka