Notes Norman Watson Come Up Short


2005 U.S. Senior OpenKETTERING, Ohio -- Two of the biggest names in golf, senior or otherwise, lingered near the leaderboard but never really threw a scare into the leaders in Sunday's final round of the U.S. Senior Open.
Greg Norman shot a solid 69 that left him at 276, just two shots back of winner Allen Doyle. But Norman didn't make a birdie on the back nine and never got closer than two shots.
``I've really got no complaints with the way I played. It was just really frustrating with the putter,'' Norman said. ``I'm sure there are a lot of players who are saying the same thing, except for the guy who won the tournament.''
Tom Watson closed with a 71 to finish at 277, three shots behind the winner.
Disappointed by the way he played, Watson said he wasn't displeased with the way his month has gone.
``It was a good July,'' Watson said. ``I had a third at the British Open against the kids. I played half decently. Then I won (at the Senior British Open), then I finished top 10 here. It wasn't too bad of a run.''
It's a short, crooked 380-yard par-4, the kind of hole that makes pros salivate and duffers smile: Big curving drive and a short iron to a large green, and then a putt for birdie.
But in the final round of the U.S. Senior Open on Sunday, the 11th hole at NCR Country Club got the best of the 50-and-over crowd.
Loren Roberts came to the hole fresh from back-to-back birdies, carrying a one-shot lead over Craig Stadler and D.A. Weibring.
``Basically, the 11th hole was my whole tournament,'' Roberts said.
Stadler, who had double-bogeyed the ninth hole and then three-putted the next for par, needed a birdie to turn things around. Instead, he hit a pull-hook off the tee deep into the woods, punched out, and then airmailed his approach about 30 feet over the pin. Two putts later, he had another bogey and was on his way to a dreadful 76.
Things were even worse for the usually rock-solid Roberts. From the middle of the fairway, he chopped his wedge into the front bunker and was left with an awkward lie. After digging into the trap with his heels, he blasted a shot out of the sand that only advanced the ball 2 feet.
An angry Roberts stepped up to the ball, and without taking a look, hit his fourth shot onto the green some 20 feet past. Two putts later, he had a double-bogey and Weibring had the lead all by himself -- a lead he would later hand to Allen Doyle when he bogeyed the 17th and 18th holes.
``I drove it just perfectly,'' Roberts said of his travails at 11. ``I had 87 yards to carry the bunker and 92 to the hole, then I probably put my worst swing I've ever put on a wedge.''
Roberts, who finished with a 73 and missed a playoff with Doyle by a shot, said hitting it into the sand was like knocking the ball into a lake.
``I've never seen sand this tough,'' Roberts said. ``The bunkers were definitely hazards this week.''
In an otherwise humdrum day, Bruce Lietzke hit an unforgettable shot while playing out the string far off the pace in the U.S. Senior Open.
On the 549-yard, par-5 sixth hole, Lietzke holed out on his second shot from 219 yards with a rescue club.
``It's pretty cool,'' said Lietzke, who shot a 67 to finish at 281. ``I've had nine holes-in-one, but only two double-eagles. There are guys out here who have spent their whole careers without getting one. So it's pretty extra special. It's hard to do.''
For good measure, he birdied the holes before and after the double-eagle.
After shooting 1-over par through his first 58 holes of the tournament, Lietzke was 5-under for the next three holes.
It was only the second double-eagle in a USGA Open championship, the other coming at the 1985 U.S. Open at Oakland Hills when T.C. Chen posted a 2 at the 527-yard, par-5 second hole.
Rick Rhoden spent 15 years in the major leagues, posting a 151-125 record with the Dodgers, Pirates, Yankees and Astros.
On Sunday at the U.S. Senior Open, the former pitching ace had an ace.
Rhoden scored a hole in one with a 6 iron at the 170-yard, par-3 second hole at NCR Country Club in the final round.
The comeback wasn't a once in a lifetime occurrence for Doyle. He shot a 64 in the final round of the 1999 PGA Seniors Championship to overcome a four-stroke deficit and win. ... Doyle's previous senior major victory was the 2001 Ford Senior Players Championship. ... Doyle hit 11 of 14 fairways, averaged 302 yards on his measured drives and needed just 25 putts in his closing 63. ... Greg Reynolds and George Zahringer shared the low amateur honors at 4-over 288. ... The 2006 Senior Open is at Prairie Dunes Country Club in Hutchinson, Kansas.
Related Links:
  • Leaderboard - U.S. Senior Open
  • Full Coverage - U.S. Senior Open