Senior Moments: World’s Best In U.S. Senior Open At Indianwood

By Greg Johnson

LAKE ORION - Years ago, Billy Casper relaxed on a golf cart in Grand Rapids and explained the appeal of senior golf, which takes center stage this week for the 2012 U.S. Senior Open at Indianwood Golf & Country Club.

“We all have different stories, different swings and golf is a game old guys can still play,” he quipped.

Those are three great reasons for golf fans in Michigan to head over to Indianwood Thursday through Sunday for the Open on the storied Old Course. Tickets remain available at www.2012ussenioropen.com/ for $40. Grounds tickets are $120 and good for the week with parking, and upgrade tickets are $250 and allow access to the Gene Sarazen Clubhouse.

These old guys can still play, and the best senior golfers in the world are here, like the top five in the current Charles Schwab Cup standings; Tom Lehman, Michael Allen, Bernhard Langer, Joe Daley and Fred Couples.

And then there’s Hale Irwin, Tom Kite, Larry Nelson, Corey Pavin, Steve Jones, Fuzzy Zoeller, Jeff Sluman, Scott Simpson, Loren Roberts, John Cook, Hal Sutton, Peter Jacobsen, Craig Stadler, Brad Faxon, Fred Funk, Gil Morgan and we could go on and on.

These are the players from a bygone era of different swings and different ways to get the ball in the hole, and not part of the latest generation of seemingly computer-generated perfect swings.

Watch Lehman hook it. Watch Langer drill it straight. See Pavin hit 5-wood when others hit 5-iron with the same accuracy. These guys are classic golfers on a classic golf stage that requires creative shots. Bombing away isn’t the way to play the Old Course. It takes an “old” game of strategy, finesse and shaped shots to the perfect spots. Tremendous golf, in other words.

Finally, as Casper pointed out, there are the many great stories that go with the golfers who have made history in the game. Need we even discuss Watson, or Langer or Irwin?

But did you know this will be the 33rd Senior Open and third played in Michigan? The previous two produced winners in Arnold Palmer in 1981 at Oakland Hills, and Jack Nicklaus in 1991 at Oakland Hills, and both were in playoffs. How’s that for champions and drama? Palmer, by the way, beat Casper and Bob Stone in an 18-hole playoff for his win, and Nicklaus was flawless with a 65 in the 18 extra holes to beat Chi Chi Rodriguez by four shots.

Do you remember T.C. Chen, old double Chen, from back in 1985 in the U.S. Open at Oakland Hills? He’s back.

Tze-Chung Chen recorded the first double-eagle in U.S. Open history during that ’85 Open, and is probably remembered more for a final-round double-hit on a chip from the rough in the final round. He had to take the two-stroke penalty, and tied for second, one shot behind champion Andy North.

As for stories, Gerry James grew up in Fruitport, Mich., over near Muskegon on the other side of the state. You might remember him as pro wrestler “Agent Orange,” which was from his bodybuilder/wrestler days before taking up golf at age 29. He’s also a former two-time RE/MAX World Long Drive champion, and Golf Channel “Big Break” competitor. Don’t you just have to check him out?

Yes, different stories, different swings and these old guys can still play.

Schedule of Events
All times Eastern Daylight Time
Monday, July 9 & Tuesday, July 10 Practice Rounds – Gates open 6:30 a.m., close approximately 8 p.m.
Wednesday, July 11 Practice Rounds – Gates open 6:30 a.m., close approximately 8 p.m.
Thursday, July 12 & Friday, July 13 First Round and Second Round – Gates open at 6:30 a.m., close approximately 8 p.m.
Saturday, July 14 Third Round – Gates open 7:30 a.m., close 30 minutes after play ends
Sunday, July 15-  Final Championship Round – Gates open 7:30 a.m., close 30 minutes after trophy presentation ceremony

GENERAL SPECTATOR PARKING – Friendship Park on the corner of Baldwin and Clarkston roads.

Television Schedule
All times Eastern Daylight Time
Thursday, July 12 3-7 p.m. Live coverage, ESPN2
Friday, July 13 3-7 p.m. Live coverage, ESPN2
Saturday, July 14 3-6 p.m. Live coverage, NBC
Sunday, July 15 3-6 p.m. Live coverage, NBC

 

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