U.S. Senior Open quotes and predictions

Columbus, OH

The 37th playing of the U.S. Senior Open begins Thursday and this edition will be held at Scioto Country Club. It is the first time in 30 years that the golf course is hosting a USGA event.

With the first tee time scheduled for 7:30 a.m. Thursday morning, here are my predictions and some extra quotes.

Winner

It’s Bernhard Langer. Sure he is the easy pick to win every week but it should not come as any surprise. There’s an anchoring ban which affects his putting stroke? No problem, his putting has maintained its competitive level as he ranks third in strokes-gained putting, not to mention Langer does not miss his targets that often.

“I’m a strong believer that, even with age, you can improve your technique because the technique has nothing to do with age really,” he said. “It’s just the technical aspect of you swinging the club, obviously, and my swing is shorter now than what it was 20 years ago. I can’t do the things I did 20 years ago, but I can still improve my technique. And if I do that, with my physical abilities, I can still hit more fairways, hit more greens, learn more about myself and the game of golf and what I can’t do, what I shouldn’t do, and I think I’ve achieved some of that. I think my technique has gotten a little bit better, trying to not have a weakness in my game.”

Also keep an eye on

Colin Montgomerie– “Monty” has had five top-10 finishes in 13 starts including a solo second place finish at the Senior PGA Championship but surprisingly missed the cut at the Senior Open Championship. He has not yet found his way into the winner’s circle though he is hopeful a tie for 10th last week at the 3M Championship is a sign of things to come.

“I was actually playing very poorly the first four, five months of this year,” Montgomerie said. “Although I qualified for the Open and made the cut and everything, that was only because it was local knowledge. I was playing particularly badly. I was actually drawing the ball, hooking the ball, pulling it left, and now I’ve got that straightened out. Last week, I didn’t putt the way I should have done but played remarkably well through the green, so bringing that form here is vital. So I’m so looking forward to being here. This is, I hate to say, the start of my season, and I hope so, in Major play, being the last one we play.”

Joe Durant– It’s very easy to pick to hot hand to continue this trend but there is more to it than last week’s win at the 3M Championship in a playoff over Miguel Angel Jimenez, his first solo victory on the Champions Tour. In five of his last six starts, Durant has placed in the top-10, with the lone blemish being a tie for 15th at the American Family Insurance Championship. Durant enters the week on that victory and a final round 9-under-par 63, something which definitely can provide momentum on a course which will require patience. He is now second on the PGA TOUR Champions with $1,082,230 in earnings this season.

“I’ve played a lot of really good golf out here but hadn’t punched through and won individually,” he said to reporters following the 3M Championship. “I was beginning to wonder if I’d ever win one.

Miguel Angel Jimenez-Jimenez has played in seven PGA TOUR Champions events and has six top-10 finishes to show for it. He just missed out on the seventh top-10 when he tied for 11th place in his first start, the Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai. Jimenez lost the 3M Championship title in a playoff to Durant and his previous two starts were a tie for third in the Senior Open Championship and a tie for second in the Constellation SENIOR PLAYERS Championship, both of which are majors.

Dark horses

David Frost– Putting is going to be a key factor in who wins the U.S. Senior Open this week and there are not many consistently better putters on tour than Frost.

Frost is starting to get back into form with a tie for 14th at the Senior Open Championship and a tie for fifth at the 3M Championship with a final round of 6-under-par 66.

It also helps that he won a major in 2013 at the Regions Tradition in addition to previously tying for third place at a U.S. Senior Open, both of which Frost can use to his advantage.

“I’m enjoying my game right now,” Frost said. “I finished strong last week shooting a 66 which is always nice and gives you confidence for the next tournament. Overall I’m happy with my year. We still have 10 tournaments this year and physically I’m in good shape and I’m enjoying the game put all of those things in one package and there’s no reason why I couldn’t have a good finish this week.”

Bart Bryant– Bryant has had himself a fine season with three top-10 finishes in his last four starts. Bryant tied for second place at the American Family Insurance Championship, tied for seventh at the Constellation SENIOR PLAYERS Championship and tied for eighth at the Dick’s Sporting Goods Open. He has held a lead at the American Family Insurance Championship with four holes to play, so he has had the opportunity to try and close a tournament out this season.

Billy Andrade– Andrade fell unto the dark horse category after tying for 60th at the 3M Championship. What cannot be replaced are his eight top-10 finishes in 16 starts. They are highlighted by a solo second place at the Allianz Championship, when Andrade fell in a playoff to Esteban Toledo and a tie for second at the Principal Charity Classic. More often than not, Andrade has been right in the thick of tournaments this year and Scioto does not appear to be any different.

Kevin Sutherland– With six top-10 finishes in 14 starts, Sutherland is playing consistent golf finishing out of the top-20 in only one of his 14 starts. Sutherland knows how to score low, he shot a 13-under-par 59 at the Dick’s Sporting Goods Open in 2015 and tied for sixth in the same tournament this year. Sutherland tied for third at this past week’s 3M Championship.

They said it

“Yesterday, as I’m walking to the putting green, there’s a picture of me shaking Bob Barbarossa’s hand, and there’s a guy next to me, taps me on the shoulder and says, do you remember me? So I’m looking at him, and I’m thinking, let’s see, 48 years ago. I don’t remember last week. But he says, look in that picture. Meanwhile, he was about a foot taller than I was. He said, that’s me carrying your golf bag. And he was my caddie. He came up to me. And I said to myself, my God, it’s just so — I can’t really find the word for it, but coming back, looking at the memorabilia in the clubhouse and the pictures, it’s pretty special. It’s pretty special.”1968 US Amateur Champion Bruce Fleisher

“Let me tell you where I’m going to be next year. In the clubhouse. Maybe they’ll put me in the booth on 18. I’m not going to be playing, no. This is pretty much it for me, honestly. I hate to say it. It hurts me. I could cry about it. But I’ve seen its better day, and it’s just not fun anymore. I don’t want to work that hard anymore, and I don’t like playing early in the morning anymore.” – Fleisher

“I think the harder the better. It separates people, and the best guy wins that week. You can’t really fake it around these places. You don’t hit good shots, you don’t get to play again. It’s real simple. I’ve always loved that about U.S. Opens and Majors, for that matter. This is a great driving course, great putting, great greens, great rough, evil bunkers. And if you miss in the wrong place, you’re toast. That’s what Opens are.” – Rocco Mediate

“We aim at the flag so many times that if it goes in it’s just luck. I’d rather have it happen in a tournament than in a practice round. It’s fun when it happens and you enjoy the moment.” – Frost on his hole out for eagle on the par-5 12th hole in a Wednesday practice round

“Well, Scioto shaped my game as far as what the game of golf is for me. If you guys go out and observe the golf course, you’ll find out that all the out of bounds on this golf course is on the right. So I don’t think that I would end up aiming the ball out of bounds and trying to hook it away from. It seems to me you would aim for the center of the golf course and then cut it. That’s how I learned to play left to right, because that’s what the golf course demanded that you play. So it was a left-to-right golf course, I thought, anyway.” – Jack Nicklaus

Author: Zac Weiss

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