U.S. Senior Open notes: Irwin's return to Inverness

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Bernhard Langer won last year's U.S. Senior Open. Only two players have won back-to-back titles.
July 27, 2011
PGA TOUR staff

• The 32nd United States Senior Open Championship will be played at the Inverness Club in Toledo, Ohio. The Donald Ross-designed layout has previously hosted the event in 2003 when Bruce Lietzke was a two-stroke victor over Tom Watson. In addition, the Inverness Club has also hosted other major championships, including the 1920, '31, '57 and '79 (Hale Irwin) U.S. Opens, the 1986 (Bob Tway) and '93 (Paul Azinger) PGA Championships and the 1973 U.S. Amateur (Craig Stadler). The venue has also been the site of the 1944 and 2009 NCAA Men's Division I Championships. The par-71 site is expected to play at 7,143 yards.


• The U.S. Senior Open will be the fourth of five Champions Tour major championships in 2011 and the second consecutive following last week's Senior British Open at Walton Heath in Surrey, England. Earlier this year, Tom Lehman claimed the first major championship of the campaign when he defeated Peter Senior in a two-hole playoff at the Region's Tradition at Shoal Creek in Birmingham. Three weeks later, Tom Watson defeated David Eger in a one-hole playoff to capture the Senior PGA Championship at Louisville's Valhalla Golf Club. The year's fifth and final major, the Constellation Energy Senior Players Championship, will be hosted by the Westchester Country Club in Rye, N.Y., Aug. 18-21.

• The next month could provide a much clearer picture of how the 2011 Charles Schwab Cup race will unfold. With all top-10 finishers at this year's major championships earning double points, many of the current leaders could make a strong push to solidify one of the top spots or open some space on their competitors. Charles 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 this year's Champions Tour, the season-ending Charles Schwab Cup Championship offers double points to those players earning a berth in the season finale at TPC Harding Park for the top-30 players on the money list.

At the end of the official season, the player earning the most points will receive a $1-million annuity from Charles Schwab. Additional payouts will also be made to players finishing second through fifth. Heading into the Senior British Open at Walton Heath, Tom Lehman is the current leader, with 1,533 points. Nick Price is second, with 1,053 points, followed by John Cook (868). Tom Watson (850) and David Eger (822).

Bernhard Langer will be attempting to do something only three other players have done in the history of this event: defend his title. Miller Barber was the first to do so, in 1985 at Edgewood Tahoe Golf Club. Gary Player became the second, in 1988 at Medinah Country Club, while Allen Doyle became the third when he won at Prairie Dunes Country Club in 2006.

• When Germany's Bernhard Langer won the 2010 championship, he became the seventh foreign-born player to capture the U.S. Senior Open. He joined Argentina's Roberto De Vicenzo (1980), South Africa's Gary Player (1987-88) and Simon Hobday (1994), Australia's Graham Marsh (1997) and Argentina's Eduardo Romero (2008) with that distinction.

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

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

Fred Funk's 72-hole score of 20-under-par 268 at Crooked Stick Golf Club in 2009 remains the most strokes under par in this championship. However, Hale Irwin's 72-hole score of 17-under-par 267 remains the lowest score. Irwin posted his total on the par-71 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.

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 eight 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:

Year Player Scores Venue
2009 Fred Funk 68-67-68-65 -- 268 Crooked Stick Golf Club
2006 Allen Doyle 69-68-67-68 -- 272 Prairie Dunes Country Club
1995 Tom Weiskopf 69-69-69-68 -- 275 Congressional Country Club
1987 Gary Player 69-68-67-66 -- 270 Brooklawn Country Club

• With four consecutive rounds in the 60s on his way to the 2010 title, Bernhard Langer became just the fifth player in U.S. Senior Open history to record four straight rounds in the 60s. Here are the other four players who have posted four straight sub-70 scores:

Dale Douglass, 75, the 1986 U.S. Senior Open winner, will be the oldest player in this year's field. His appearance in the 2011 U.S. Senior Open will be his 26th consecutive, breaking the record he shared with Arnold Palmer (1981-2005) for consecutive starts. Douglass has made the cut 14 times and has three top-five finishes in his previous 25 appearances in the championship.

Hale Irwin is seeking his 31st top-10 finish in a major championship, which would give him the most in Champions Tour history. Irwin's 30th top-10 came at the 2011 Senior PGA Championship, tying him with Jack Nicklaus in that category. Tom Watson has 28 to his credit, while Tom Kite and Gil Morgan each have 25.

Bob Gilder will be competing in his 52nd consecutive Champions Tour major championship. He's played in every one since joining the Tour in 2001 -- the longest current streak on the Champions Tour.

Loren Roberts will be bidding for his fourth different major Champions Tour title. If he is successful, he would join Jack Nicklaus as the only other player to claim four different senior majors. Nicklaus won four JELD-WEN Tradition titles (1990-91 and 1995-96), a pair of U.S. Senior Opens (1991, '93), the 1990 Constellation Energy Senior Players Championship and the 1991 Senior PGA Championship. Roberts has won the 2005 JELD-WEN Tradition, the 2006, 2009 Senior British Open and the 2007 Constellation Energy Senior Players Championship. He tied for second in the 2005 U.S. Senior Open.

• Three players have earned more than $1 million in their U.S. Senior Open careers, led by Hale Irwin's $1,407,533. Allen Doyle is second, with $1,337,912, followed by Tom Watson, with $1,285,498.

• It will be a homecoming of sorts for three competitors in this year's tournament. John Cook, Joey Sindelar and Rod Spittle were teammates for a portion of their college careers at Ohio State University. Cook and Sindelar helped lead the Buckeyes to the NCAA Division I Championship in 1979.

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 Doyle matched that score in the final round of the 2005 U.S. Senior Open at NCR Country Club.

• It was nearly 25 years ago (Aug. 10) that Bob Tway posted perhaps the signature win of his professional career when he holed out from a greenside bunker on the 18th hole to defeat Greg Norman at the 1986 PGA Championship at Inverness. The victory would be Tway's fourth that year, and he was later named the PGA of America's Player of the Year.

• 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 was 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).

• Since its inception in 1980 player(s) leading or co-leading the U.S. Senior Open after the third round have gone on to win the championship 20 of the 31 times it has been played, including each of the last three 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 largest 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 in 2010 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.

• When he posted back-to-back major victories at last year's Senior British Open and the U.S. Senior Open, Bernhard Langer he became the first player to win consecutive senior majors since Tom Watson in 2003 (Senior British Open and JELD-WEN Tradition).

• Twenty-eight amateurs are expected to compete in the 2011 U.S. Senior Open, including three who made the cut in 2010. Tim Jackson was the highest finisher among those three amateurs, at T32. The best finish by an amateur in U.S. Open history came in 1980 when William Campbell was second at Winged Foot to Roberto De Vicenzo. That year a whopping 64 amateurs were in the starting field, the most in tournament history.

• The Inverness Club will join Oakland Hills Country Club (1981, '91) and Saucon Valley CC (1992, 2000) as the only courses to host a pair of U.S. Senior Opens.

• To show the growth of this event. When Robert De Vicenzo won the crown in 1980, his first-place check was for $20,000 out of a total purse of $125,000. While this year's purse has yet to be announced, last year's was $2.6 million, with champion Bernhard Langer taking home $470,000.

• The 2012 U.S. Senior Open is scheduled for July 12-15 at the Indianwood Golf and Country Club in Lake Orion, MI, while the 2013 event will be hosted by Omaha (NE) Country Club from July 11-14.

Here are some highlights from the past for this week ...

7/26/98 -- Despite opening with a 77, Hale Irwin birdies the final hole to nip Vicente Fernandez by one stroke at the U.S. Senior Open at Riviera CC in Los Angeles. The win comes one week after going wire-to-wire at the Ameritech Senior Open.

7/27/03 -- Peter Jacobsen collects his seventh career win on the PGA TOUR when he shoots four straight rounds in the 60s to defeat Chris Riley by two strokes at the Greater Hartford Open. Win came 19 years since his last win at Hartford and it made him the seventh oldest (at the time) winner in PGA TOUR history at 49 years, 4 months 23 days.

7/27/03 -- Tom Watson wins his first Senior British Open crown when he prevails with a par on the second playoff hole against Carl Mason at Turnberry. He becomes the 11th player to win a PGA TOUR and Champions Tour event at the same venue with the win.

7/27/97 -- Dave Stockton wins the Champions Tour's 500th event when he beats Kermit Zarley by two strokes at the Franklin Quest Championship in Park City, Utah.

7/27/08 -- Bruce Vaughan sinks a 20-foot birdie putt on the first extra hole to claim his first Champions Tour victory, ending John Cook's bid at the Senior British Open at Royal Troon.

7/27/06 -- Corey Pavin sets a new PGA TOUR 9-hole scoring mark when he shoots an 8-under-par 26 on the front nine in the opening round of the U.S. Bank Championship on his way to a 9-under-par 61.

7/28/02 -- One week after defeating Hale Irwin in a playoff, Bob Gilder does it again. He makes a birdie-3 on the third extra hole to win the FleetBoston Classic and becomes the first wire-to-wire winner of the event. In the process becomes the first pro to win consecutive events in a playoff since Lee Elder won consecutive Champions Tour events in playoffs in 1985.

7/29/84 -- Thanks to a third-round 63, Peter Jacobsen wins his second title of the season, besting Mark O'Meara by two strokes to win the Sammy Davis, Jr.-Greater Hartford Open.

7/29/90 -- Starting Sunday's round eight strokes off the pace of 54-hole leader Hale Irwin, Chip Beck fires a seven-under 65 to beat Irwin, Fuzzy Zoeller and Mike Donald by one at the Buick Open in Michigan.

7/29/07 -- Tom Watson's wins a third Senior British Open crown despite a double bogey at the final hole at Muirfield. It was his eighth victory in the British Isles. He also won a British Open title at Muirfield in 1980 over Lee Trevino.

7/30/06 -- Loren Roberts wins his second major championship when he defeats Eduardo Romero to win the Senior British Open at Turnberry. After watching a five-stroke final-round lead disappear, Roberts made a clutch 14-foot par putt to win just prior to Romero missing a par putt from six feet.

7/30/06 -- Corey Pavin ends a 10-year drought (10 years, two months, 11 days) as he goes wire-to-wire to win the U.S. Bank Championship in Milwaukee for the second time. Set or tied several TOUR record in the process, including an 8-under-par 26 on the front nine in his opening round. His opening-round 61 matched the Brown Deer Park course record and his 36-hole total of 61-64?125 matched the best first 36-hole mark in Tour history.

7/30/95 --- In just his fifth start on the Champions Tour, Hale Irwin wins his third title in the Chicago area when he posts a seven-stroke win at the Ameritech Senior Open over Kermit Zarley. His 54-hole total of 21-under-par 195 smashes the tournament record by five strokes.

7/31/05 -- Allen Doyle wins the first of two consecutive U.S. Senior Open titles when he fires a final round 8-under-par 63 (tying a U.S. Senior Open record) and comes from nine strokes back to defeat Loren Roberts and D.A. Weibring by one stroke at NCR CC.

7/31/83 -- John Cook birdies the sixth playoff hole to defeat Johnny Miller to win the Canadian Open.