You wouldn't expect this morning's two-hour fog delay to bother Bernhard Langer - he's a quiet man with strong faith, and the ability to focus under stressful circumstances. Sahalee Country Club, the home of the 2010 U.S. Senior Open, would provide a measure of resistance, but if anything, Langer would have to avoid being distracted by the sounds of the guys in his group going "splat".
"It's always the same story - hit it where you're looking and play smart," Langer said after his round today. Others weren't able to play to that theory.
When he spoke to the media after shooting a one-under 69 on Thursday, Calcavecchia made it very clear that Sahalee wasn't playing easy. "[On this] course, there's just not that many birdie holes out there even if you do hit the fairway and even if you have a short iron ... I think it was the hardest set of pin placements I've seen in years. It's tough -- if you get your tee ball out of position, you're pretty much screwed."
On Friday, Calcavecchia went back out with Corey Pavin and Bernhard Langer and tried to keep the red numbers coming. The fog delay didn't seem to distract him - "Calc" started out with a solid par to the right fairway and a second shot to the foot of the green, leaving him with an uphill putt of about 10 feet. He kept par with a two-putt, and started making headway on the second hole, a 508-yard Par-5, with a nice drive and an iron shot from the fairway that knifed through the sky and dropped to within three feet of the hole.
Two more birdies followed on the next three holes, punctuated by Calcavecchia's banging tee shots. Whether he was in position to fire at the flag or forced to punch or pitch out of trouble, he kept his good nature intact, at one point asking for a bottle of water from a group of fans. He got wet to the right near the green on the 190-yard Par-3 fifth, but dropped 30 yards back and escaped with a bogey. His 34 on the front nine reflected his ability to push past problems on the course, but with four bogeys on the back nine, the momentum was quickly negated and he shot a 73 to stand at +2 for the tournament. Calcavecchia got his ball out of position, and he explained the result of that scenario in the quote above.
While Calcavecchia was trying to hold it together, Pavin was trying - and mostly failing - to avoid falling apart. He shot a +2 72 on Thursday, and entertained the Sahalee observers (not to mention the television viewing audience) by yelling at his balls in flight and kicking one sandtrap when his results didn't match up to his expectations. Pavin was supposed to make a serious dent in this field, based on a year that's seen him place in the top 10 in six of his past eight PGA/Champions Tour tournaments.
Today, Pavin started admonishing his ball to "Sit!" early on, harangued a passer-by for talking while she was walking by far outside the ropes as he was ready to swing, and slammed his ball down at the ninth after taking a bogey. Of course, the double he took at 17 exacerbated the issue - it's quite possible that Pavin's low, hard ball flight makes him an unlikely candidate to win on a course that requires higher shots and fewer rolls. Pavin overshot the green more than once. When he hit a wood off the tee, "the thing just hissed with danger," as Ty Cobb once said of Walter Johnson's fastball, but that's not a useful skill in this particular setting.
Langer paid for his aggressiveness early on - he tried to sail the right-side water hazard on the second hole and went in the drink, but got up and down to preserve par. He was backed down to par at the ninth today after shooting a 69 yesterday, but stubbornly kept it going, and was rewarded with an eagle on the 545-yard Par-5 11th. Langer hit a great drive, got a hybrid on the green from about 230 yards out, and made the long putt. Langer, the winner of last week's British Senior Open and the current leader in Charles Schwab Cup points, went into the clubhouse with a 68, just one shot behind leader Bruce Vaughan. Vaughan will tee it up with a late afternoon start of 3:40 due to the fog delay.