Notes Doyle Chuckles Thorpes Take

By Associated PressJuly 6, 2007, 4:00 pm
U.S. Senior OpenHAVEN, Wis. -- Two-time defending champion Allen Doyle could only chuckle about his two rounds at Whistling Straits. The conditions were perfect for low scores and Doyle was considered a favorite.
Nothing else went right.
'It was just kind of an odd week for us,' he said.
Doyle's run at three straight titles ended just after he teed off in the tournament when he carded a double bogey on the first hole. On Friday, he shot a 72, but still fell well below the cut line and finished the tournament 11 over.
'We just had a bad round,' Doyle said. 'You hope it doesn't happen, but it did. We had high hopes and we go home a little disappointed, but that's the way it is. We went home the last two years probably sky high, so we go home a little disappointed.'
Doyle was already 7 over in his first round when play was halted on Thursday as thunderstorms rolled through the Straits. He dropped four more shots when he got back to the course early Friday morning.
'It played as easy as we could get it,' Doyle said. 'I hit the ball OK, but when you get one a little left and a little right and you don't have plays, then you make bogeys. And you make a few more, and then you're trying to make something happen that doesn't happen.'
Loren Roberts, playing in his group, said that Doyle just had a horrible first round.
'I felt bad for him,' said Roberts, who is in a tie for second in the tournament at 5-under par. 'He got in the rough a few times and really couldn't get out. He didn't chip or putt well.'
Doyle, who has an unorthodox swing and doesn't have the name recognition of other elite golfers, sought to become the first player on the tour to win three straight U.S. Senior Opens.
Instead, he'll join Gary Player and Miller Barber as the only other golfers to win back-to-back U.S. Senior titles.
'When everybody was saying three-peat, I was saying there was a reason no one has,' Doyle said. 'I tried to underplay it and downplay it some, but golf's a game when you're on, you're on and you can make things happen. And when you're a little off sometimes, you just can't make them happen.'
Doyle said he thought he drove the ball pretty well, but every mistake he made came back to hurt him -- including drives that were in decent position, but left him with difficult follow-up shots.
'He worked hard, he tried on every single shot,' caddie Sonny Skinner said. 'We'll just go get them next year.'
Jim Thorpe won three PGA TOUR tournaments, including one in Milwaukee in 1985, and has a dozen more wins on the Champions Tour.
Almost every time the 58-year-old pro tees it up, he's the only black player in the field. And, he doesn't see that changing any time soon.
'It's just not happening,' Thorpe said of the surge in black golfers that had been expected because of the success of Tiger Woods. 'The opportunities are there. We have a lot of programs to get young people involved but it's just not there yet.'
Thorpe shot a 70 Friday to make the cut in the U.S. Senior Open.
He said the First Tee and several other programs have helped introduce many minority youngsters to golf, but there are no programs to help them continue improving after they grow out of the programs at 16 or 17.
'We need to capture these kids who have the potential ... and help them get to the next level, college and the pros,' Thorpe said.
Thorpe believes that getting people committed to developing programs to help talented teens advance to golf's highest levels is necessary before there will be more blacks playing in tour events.
'I think that's the only way you're going to see the scales get a little bit closer to balance,' he said. 'Tiger and Vijay Singh are the only two guys of color on the regular tour. We need to take a stand and develop a program and take some of these younger golfers go all the way.'
Jim Rollefson's nerves playing as an amateur in the U.S. Senior Open were quickly abated. All he had to do was look at his caddie.
The 58-year-old golfer from New Berlin, Wis., used the oldest of his three sons to handle his bag this week.
'He knows that he can trust me in terms of seeing what's there, even though I'm not a teacher or whatever,' Ryan Rollefson said. 'The main thing is to talk him through things.'
It was the first time Ryan Rollefson caddied for his father at this level of competition. He also accompanied his dad two weeks ago on a practice round at Whistling Straits.
'It's a good honor and the main responsibility is to keep him calm,' said the 27-year-old former NAIA All-American soccer player and 2002 graduate of Grace College in Indiana. 'I know it means the world to him.'
Rollefson missed the cut after shooting rounds of 81 and 84, but five amateurs advanced to weekend play. They were Brady Exber, Danny Green, Marty West, Jim Knoll and George Zahringer.
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