Power Rankings: U.S. Senior Open Championship

July 25, 2011
Vartan Kupelian, PGATOUR.COM Contributor

Editor's note: Vartan Kupelian is the Champions Tour Insider and a PGATOUR.COM Contributor. Each week, Kupelian will size up the field and provide his top 5 players going into the tournament, based on factors such as the player's strengths, the course setup, recent performances, etc.

The U.S. Senior Open returns this week to Inverness Club, where Bruce Lietzke won the title in 2003.


A year ago, Bernhard Langer claimed the title at Sahalee Country Club in Sammamish, Wash., a week after winning the Senior British.

Can Russ Cochran match Langer's feat?

Cochran won the Senior Open at Walton Heath for his first Champions Tour major title. Cochran posted back-to-back 67s on the weekend for a 12-under 276 total and two-stroke victory over Mark Calcavecchia.

There are five golfers in the field at Inverness who previously won titles at the Toledo, Ohio, club. They are, in chronological order, Craig Stadler (1973 U.S. Amateur), Hale Irwin (1979 U.S. Open), Bob Tway (1986 PGA Championship), Paul Azinger (1993 PGA Championship) and Bruce Lietzke (2003 U.S. Senior Open).

This week's Power Rankings for the U.S. Senior Open in Toledo:

Power Rankings: U.S. Senior Open Championship
Rank Player   Comment
Now that he's back and fit again after a wrist injury, a back-to-back isn't out of the question. Consider that Cochran's first two Champions Tour victories, in 2010, came in successive tournaments last September in Korea and North Carolina.
A three-time winner this year, he's returning to his hometown in search of his first Champions Tour major. Will the friendly surroundings be a boon or a burden? That's a question. A T11 at Walton Heath proves his game is ready.
The other three-time winner in 2011 and season-long leader of the Money List and Charles Schwab Cup points played beautifully at the British Open (T22) but couldn't solve Walton Heath, where he finished T21 with four rounds in the 70s.
Back-to-back top 10 finishes in majors, with a T8 at the Senior PGA and a second straight top-3 finish at the Senior Open last week when he closed with 69 to tie Tom Watson for third place. T21 at '86 PGA Championship at Inverness.
Sooner or later he has to close the deal, right? He had a chance at the Regions Tradition (T5) to make a major his breakthrough Champions win and again at Walton Heath before finishing second to Cochran. Does he fade or flourish at Inverness?
(Tie) The defending U.S. Senior Open champion is beginning to find his bearings after a lengthy injury layoff. He played steadily at Walton Heath, finishing T12. The highlight? Rounds of 69-69 on the weekend, a sure sign he's getting close.