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They Said It: Thursday at the U.S. Senior Open

Devil Ball Golf

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Jeff Thompson apparently didn't have too much to say on the course — at least not in this picture — but here's what we did hear in the media tent from the players at the U.S. Senior Open.

"I'm just a country boy from Western Kansas and proud of it ... I was a fireman out of high school, and I only worked 2 1/2 days of the week and found something to do and started playing golf, you know. And then I turned pro and played mini-tours and some other tournaments for a while. And then I started on the Hogan Tour when it started and then went to the Nike Tour and BUY.COM and Nationwide. I had some bad knee problems, so I couldn't play there for several years and just waited until I turned 50. It was just in my blood that I thought I could keep playing." — Bruce Vaughan, who leads the field at 4-under after the first day

"I have no goal right now. I just want to get back to playing good again. Getting back to even par, I still think even par is going to win." — Fred Funk, who found himself at 6-over when Thursday was done.

"Come on, this is not a hardship, our office is one of the prettiest places in the world and it's just golf, you know? Sure, we would like to have a break in there and have 'em spread out a little bit, but, you know, they say we're playing three straight tournaments Tom Watson, Tom Lehman, couple of guys playing three straight four-round events, well we've done that all of our lives so hopefully we can play four rounds, hopefully we can make the cut and play four rounds so I'm not looking at it in those terms." — Jay Haas, on the jet lag players are feeling after coming from the British to play this course.

"Well, I mean the real surprise was how tough the pins were, especially on that front nine. They can't get any tougher; I don't know where they could put them. A bunch of the pins are in such corners that you can't get after them at all so you're just kinda making pars out there, and the greens are extremely firm. I didn't expect them to be that firm this morning, to be honest." Michael Allen, on the hole locations.

"Yeah, you have to pick your shots. Out of the gate, second hole, par-5 is a birdie you can get a good hole. You hit a good tee shot you can get the hole with a 4-iron, few good pins, probably the third hole today if you drove in the fairway, the pin was at the back. If you were shooting up the green, you had a good shot there. The fourth hole was a birdie hole and then after that 10 was a birdie you had to pick your shots today. If you got a short iron in your hand and it wasn't tucked behind a little mound, you could think about it, but it's a pretty defensive type golf course, I think." — Loren Roberts, on the strategy that kept him close to the lead at 2-under for the day.

"He's one of my favorite all-time players so I watch him. I could have been 9-under or 9-over, I still watch what he does. He hits the ball really, really pure; there is a different sound. I do that sometimes! I haven't done it lately but he honestly, never missed a shot. He may have made a couple of bogeys but it was because the course is so hard, but he plays really well, so it's fun to watch. It's a learning experience." Fred Couples, on playing with Tom Watson on Thursday and Friday.

"I don't know, I'm just tired — tired and hurting. When you wake up at 1:00 in the morning and can't go back to sleep, it's kind of tough to play." — Tom Watson, on his restless night.

"I played the course eight years ago when it was soft. It's a great golf course when it's soft because you can attack certain hole locations. But when it's this firm you just can't go for the pins half the time or maybe three quarters of the time — you've just got to play defensive golf. But defensive doesn't mean it's easy, you've still got to pull off the great shots to the middle of the green or wherever you're going; trying to land it on the front.

"The other thing is, it slopes back to front so you can't go over because then you're facing a downhill putt that's tough. You're always playing for the front edge of the green which is often only 5 yards wide covered by two bunkers which is OK when you have a wedge or 9-iron in your hand but not with a longer club." — Bernhard Langer, on the lay of the land.

"I tried to take back those electrolytes. And the motto is "finish as strong as you started," but I ran out of gas with six holes to go, even when I played nine holes yesterday. And after the practice holes yesterday I was thinking about my nap. I was tired, which is unusual with me; usually I bounce back and flying all over the world, but I've been tired." — Mark Calcavecchia, on fighting burnout through the first day. Unfortunately for Calc, one scoreboard operator was suffering from a bit of burnout as well!

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