Notebook: 2010 U.S. Senior Open Championship

July 26, 2010
PGA TOUR staff

• The 31st United States Senior Open Championship will be played on the North and South nines of the 27-hole Sahalee Country Club in Sammamish, Washington. Ted Robinson designed the original 18-hole course, which opened in 1969. Rees Jones oversaw a redesign and renovations in 1996 in preparation for the 1998 PGA Championship. Sahalee will be set up at 6,866 yards and will play to a par of 35-35-70.


• This will be the first USGA championship conducted at Sahalee, however. The 1998 PGA Championship was held there and won by Fiji's Vijay Singh. The course also hosted the 2002 World Golf Championships-NEC Invitational won by Australian Craig Parry. This will also be the second time the Champions Tour has held an event at Sahalee. In 1986, the course was the venue for the first GTE Northwest Classic won by Australian Bruce Crampton.

• Sahalee was first envisioned in 1965, when two separate groups of members from local golf clubs -- one from Inglewood Country Club, the other from Broadmoor Golf Club -- decided concurrently that the Greater Seattle Area was in need of another championship golf course. The endeavor began to take shape in the summer of 1966, as the two groups merged to form Par Golf, Inc. Their property search ended in early 1967 when the 320 acres that was to become Sahalee was found on the Sammamish Plateau five miles east of Redmond. The club's 27 holes were carved out of the tall majestic Cedar and Douglas Fir trees that are native to the Pacific Northwest.

• The same eight men who had led the project from the beginning decided on the name Sahalee or "High Heavenly Ground" in the language of the Chinook. The name was chosen to reflect the Northwest's heritage and tradition. Sahalee's first head professional was World Golf Hall of Fame member Paul Runyan, a two-time PGA Championship winner, four-time U.S. Ryder Cup team member and two-time Senior PGA Championship winner.

• The U.S. Senior Open will be the third of five major championships on the Champions Tour in 2010 and the second consecutive following last week's Senior British Open at Carnoustie, Scotland. Following the U.S. Senior Open, the JELD-WEN Tradition will be contested at The Crosswater Club at Sunriver, Oregon (Aug. 19-22). The final major championship of the season will be the Constellation Energy Senior Players Championship at TPC Potomac at Avenel Farm in suburban Washington, D.C. (Oct. 7-10). Tom Lehman won the first major of the year in late May, the Senior PGA Championship at Colorado Golf Club near Denver. Germany's Bernhard Langer captured his first major title at last week's Senior British Open.

• Top-10 finishers at this year's U.S. Senior Open will earn double points in the season-long Charles Schwab Cup race. Schwab Cup points are awarded throughout the year based on top-10 finishes and dollar amounts won in events on a per-thousand basis (i.e. $100,000 equals 100 Charles Schwab Cup points). In addition to double points in all five major championships on the Champions Tour this year, the season-ending Charles Schwab Cup Championship offers double points to those players earning a top-10 finish at Harding Park in early November. At the end of the official season, the player earning the most points will receive a $1 million payout from Charles Schwab. Additional payouts will also be made to players finishing second thru fifth. Bernhard Langer's victory last week in Scotland moved him into the Schwab Cup lead ahead of Fred Couples. Couples had led the season-long race since February 14.

Year Market Event/Winner U.S. Senior Open Winner U.S. Senior Open Venue
1985 Reno-Tahoe Champions Classic/Peter Thomson Miller Barber Edgewood Tahoe GC
1990 New York NYNEX Commemorative/Lee Trevino Lee Trevino Ridgewood CC
    Northville Long Island Classic/George Archer    
1991 Detroit Mazda Sr. TPC/Jim Albus Jack Nicklaus Oakland Hills CC
1997 Chicago Ameritech Sr. Open/Gil Morgan Graham Marsh Olympia Fields CC
1998 Los Angeles Toshiba Sr. Classic/Hale Irwin Hale Irwin Riviera CC
    Pacific Bell Sr. Classic/Joe Inman    
2001 Boston FleetBoston Classic/Larry Nelson Bruce Fleisher Salem CC
2002 Baltimore Greater Baltimore Classic/J.C. Snead Don Pooley Caves Valley GC

• This year's U.S. Senior Open will be the first of two Champions Tour events in Seattle in 2010. The Boeing Classic will be held at TPC Snoqualmie Ridge in Snoqualmie, Wash. from Aug. 23-29. This marks the eighth time that both a U.S. Senior Open and co-sponsored Champions Tour event have been held in the same metropolitan area. Here are details on the other seven times its happened:

Fred Funk shot a record 20-under-par 268 to win last year's U.S. Senior Open by six strokes over Joey Sindelar at Crooked Stick Golf Club in Carmel, Ind. Funk was the only player in the field to card four rounds in the 60s. He will try to become the fifth two-time winner of this event and the first repeat winner since Allen Doyle claimed his second consecutive U.S. Senior Open title at Prairie Dunes in 2006. Gary Player won back-to-back U.S. Senior Open titles in 1987-88 and Miller Barber, the event's only three-time winner, claimed back-to-back events in 1984-85. Funk has a good opportunity to repeat this year based on his track record in two previous events at Sahalee. He finished T2 at the 2002 World Golf Championships -- NEC Invitational and also was T23 at the 1998 PGA Championship.

Allen Doyle's win at Prairie Dunes in 2006 made him the oldest winner of the U.S. Senior Open at 57 years, 11 months and 17 days. Dale Douglass is the youngest champion, having won the championship on his first try in 1986 at Scioto at the age of 50 years, 3 months and 24 days.

• In addition to Dale Douglass (1986), six other players have won this championship in their first appearance. The list includes Roberto De Vicenzo (1980), Arnold Palmer (1981), Lee Trevino (1990), Larry Laoretti (1992), Don Pooley (2002) and Peter Jacobsen (2004).

Name U.S. Open U.S. Senior Open
Billy Casper 1959, 1966 1983
Hale Irwin 1974, 1979, 1990 1998, 2000
Orville Moody 1969 1989
Jack Nicklaus 1962, 1967, 1972, 1980 1991, 1993
Arnold Palmer 1960 1981
Gary Player 1965 1987, 1988
Lee Trevino 1968, 1971 1990

Hale Irwin is one of seven former U.S. Open champions in this year's U.S. Senior Open field. When he won at Riviera Country Club in 1998, Irwin became the seventh and last man to claim both the U.S. Open and the U.S. Senior Open in his career. Here's a chart detailing these multiple winners:

Fred Couples is the honorary chairman of the 2010 U.S. Senior Open. Couples, a Seattle native and graduate of O'Dea High School, is a rookie on the Champions Tour this year and will be making his first appearance in a U.S. Senior Open. He played in 23 U.S. Open Championships and was T3 in 1991 at Hazeltine National in Minnesota.

Fred Funk's 72-hole total of 20-under-par last year is a tournament record for most strokes under par over four rounds. However, Hale Irwin still holds the U.S. Senior Open scoring record of 267 at Saucon Valley Country Club in 2000. Arnold Palmer's 9-over 289 total at Oakland Hills Country Club in 1981 is the highest winning score in U.S. Senior Open history.

Dale Douglass, 74, who won the U.S. Senior Open in 1986 on his first try, will be the oldest player in the field at Sahalee this year. His appearance in the 2010 U.S. Senior Open will be his 25th consecutive, tying Arnold Palmer's 25 consecutive starts from 1981-2005. Douglass has made the cut 14 times and has three top-five finishes in his previous 24 appearances in the championship.

• Both Loren Roberts and Tom Watson will be bidding to claim their fourth different major title on the Champions Tour. If either is successful at Sahalee this year, they would join Jack Nicklaus as the only other player to claim four different senior majors. Nicklaus won four JELD-WEN Tradition titles (1990, 1991, 1995, 1996), a pair of U.S. Senior Opens (1991, 1993), the 1990 Constellation Energy Senior Players Championship and the 1991 Senior PGA Championship. Watson has won three Senior British Opens (2003, 2005, 2007), the 2001 Senior PGA Championship and the 2003 JELD-WEN Tradition. Roberts has claimed the 2005 JELD-WEN Tradition, the 2006, 2009 Senior British Open and the 2007 Constellation Energy Senior Players Championship. Watson has finished second in the 2002, 2003 and 2006 U.S. Senior Open, while Roberts was T2 in the 2005 U.S. Senior Open.

Loren Roberts' 8-under-par 62 on Saturday at the 2006 U.S. Senior Open at Prairie Dunes is the lowest round in U.S. Senior Open history. Roberts' score broke the record of 63 previously held by both Don Pooley and Allen Doyle. Pooley carded an 8-under 63 in the third round of the 2002 U.S. Senior Open at Caves Valley and then Doyle matched that score in the final round of the 2005 U.S. Senior Open at NCR Country Club.

• There have been five playoffs in U.S. Senior Open history. Don Pooley and Tom Watson staged the first aggregate-hole playoff in 2002 after the format was installed in 1999. Pooley eventually won with a birdie on the fifth extra hole after the duo were still deadlocked after three holes. The last 18-hole playoff in U.S. Senior Open history came in 1991 when Jack Nicklaus defeated Chi Chi Rodriguez by four strokes. The other playoffs came in 1988 (Gary Player def. Bob Charles), 1983 (Billy Casper def. Rod Funseth) and 1981 (Arnold Palmer def. Bob Stone and Billy Casper).

• International players have captured the U.S. Senior Open a total of six times. South African Gary Player was a two-time winner (1987-88), while Argentina's Roberto De Vicenzo (1980), Eduardo Romero (2008), South Africa's Simon Hobday (1994) and Australia's Graham Marsh (1997) each won it once.

• Since 1990 player(s) leading or co-leading the U.S. Senior Open after the third round have gone on to win the championship 10 times, including each of the last two years. Allen Doyle's comeback from nine strokes in 2005 is the best come-from-behind win in U.S. Senior Open championship history. It is also the second-greatest comeback in any major championship. Paul Lawrie came from 10 strokes back to claim the 1999 British Open at Carnoustie.

Gary Player and Fred Funk hold the U.S. Senior Open record for the biggest victory margin. Player recorded a six-stroke victory over Doug Sanders at Brooklawn Country Club (Fairfield, CT) in 1987 while Funk's final-round 65 last year allowed him to cruise to a six-shot triumph over Joey Sindelar.

Gary Player (1987), Jack Nicklaus (1991), Bruce Fleisher (2001) and Fred Funk (2009) all hold the distinction of rebounding from a runner-up finish the previous year to win a U.S. Senior Open title the next year.

Bernhard Langer claimed his first major title on the Champions Tour at last week's Senior British Open Championship. This week at Sahalee, he'll bid to become the first player to win consecutive senior majors since Tom Watson in 2003 (Senior British Open/JELD-WEN Tradition). In his two previous appearances in U.S. Senior Opens, Langer has finished T6 in 2008 and T22 last year.

Jay Don Blake is the only player to finish among the top 10 in each of the first two major championships this year. Blake was T8 at the Senior PGA Championship and his T3 at the Senior British Open was his career best on the circuit.