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Sure, it was cool to see Padraig Harrington run away from the field and all but lock up the 42nd U.S. Senior Open title with a 5-under par 66 Saturday (good for a five-shot lead with 18 holes to go) here at Saucon Valley Country Club.
But there was plenty more going on before the television cameras rolled that registered on the cool meter.
Really? Just like that?
Watching Miguel Angel Jimenez, who drew a nice crowd despite not being in contention, chip in for birdie on the par 5, 6th hole made us duffers understand even more why we’re duffers.
The cooler part was how nonchalantly he did it. He wasn’t smoking his usual cigar at that point (the stogie would come later in his round), but he simply strolled up to the flag to get a look, walked back to his ball (which was about 10 yards off the green, and knocked it in.
A tip of the cap and a bow followed, then a smile, and off to the next tee.
Not so fast
Golfers like it quiet and when the door to a portable toilet slammed as Jerry Kelly was in his backswing on the fifth tee, the always affable Kelly didn’t flinch. Or grumble. Or yell, like so many others do.
He just stepped back, regrouped, and proceeded to crush one down the right side of the fairway.
Over two decades ago, Casey Martin caused an uproar in the golf world when he used a cart.
Here, a handful of players, including Scott Verplank, are using carts and nobody seems to care.
Players on the Senior Tour are “encouraged” to walk the course, but carts are permitted.
Australian Stuart Appleby did one young fan a favor by reaching into the cooler provided to the players on each tee and grabbing a couple bottles of water and handing them over.
With temperatures in the 90s, it was a really nice gesture.
It’s easy to show up later in the day to watch the final groups (the last pairing didn’t go off until 2:55 p.m.), but kudos to those who made it for the morning play.
A 3-over par 74 left Rocco Mediate in a tie for 15th Saturday heading into the final round of the 42nd U.S. Senior Open at Saucon Valley Country Club.
Players like Jim Furyk, Mark O’Meara, Colin Montgomerie and Vijay Singh were in the morning wave and the fans showed up to see some of their favorites.
Big Easy turns back the clock
Hearing a dad tell his sons to watch “that guy” and see how easy he makes it look was cool and funny at the same time.
Who knows if the guy knew that Ernie Els’ nickname is the “Big Easy”? It didn’t really matter.
What mattered was how the 67 Els carded (tied for the second-lowest round of the day) moved him from a tie for 13th into sole possession of fourth at 4-under par heading into Sunday’s final round.
And speaking of rolling it
Ken Tanigawa’s sixvstraight birdies (on holes seven through 12) not only rocketed him up the leaderboard but also set a U.S. Senior Open record for consecutive birdies.
He finished the day with a 2-under par 69 and heads into Sunday in a tie for 13th.
Rob Labritz fist bumps his caddie on the 15th hole during the 2022 U.S. Senior Open at Saucon Valley C.C. (Old Course) in Bethlehem, Pa. (Steven Gibbons/USGA)
Puttin’ on the Labritz
Rob Labritz continues to be the feel-good story of this tournament. (In full disclosure, I’d never heard of him, either).
The 51-year-old Champions Tour rookie, who had to go through qualifying to even get into this field, shot his third-straight 2-under par 69 Saturday and finds himself tied for second place with Gene Sauers at 6-under par.
Not bad for a guy who never played on the PGA Tour (although he did play in eight PGA Championships, twice finishing as low club professional) and is making just his 12th Champions Tour start.
Do it again Sunday
The USGA moved the tee on the 10th hole up, shortening the par 4 to just 284 yards, and enticing every player to try and drive the green.
Some did, some didn’t, but the crowd loved it nonetheless. Let’s hope there’s another drivable par 4 in the mix for Sunday’s final round.
Truer words were …
Saucon Valley’s perfect fairways, glass-like greens and overall pristine conditioning led one fan to sum things up perfectly.
“This place looks nothing like the course I play Sunday mornings.”
No, it does not.