US Senior Open Pairings Unveiled


Bruce Fleisher will be paired with amateur Kemp Richardson and Australian Ian Stanley when he begins his quest for a second straight U.S. Senior Open title next week at Caves Valley Golf Club in Baltimore, Maryland.
Last year Fleisher completed the largest comeback in U.S. Senior Open history when he rallied from four strokes down in the final round at Salem Country Club to earn his first win in a major. Also the winner of the U.S. Amateur in 1968, Fleisher joined Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus as the only players to win both the Amateur and the Senior Open.
Fleisher, 53, will start on the back nine Thursday at Caves Valley alongside Richardson, of Laguna Niguel, California, the reigning Senior Amateur champion making his fourth straight appearance at the U.S. Senior Open, and Stanley, a European Seniors Tour star who captured last year's Senior British Open at Northern Ireland's Royal County Down.
Fuzzy Zoeller, who made his first victory on the Senior Tour a big one when he captured the Senior PGA Championship on the South Course at Firestone Country Club earlier this month, will play with a pair of fellow major champions. Zoeller will be joined on the first tee Thursday by Tom Watson, the 1982 U.S. Open winner at Pebble Beach and the 2001 Senior PGA champion, and Jim Thorpe, who won the first major of the 2002 season at The Tradition in April.
Zoeller won the 1984 U.S. Open after beating Greg Norman in an 18-hole playoff at Winged Foot.
Nicklaus, whose United States Golf Association trophy case includes two U.S.Am Senior Opens (1991, '93), will share the fairways the first two rounds with Japan's Isao Aoki, the runner-up to Nicklaus in the '80 Open at Baltusrol, and David Graham of Australia, the 1981 U.S. Open winner at Merion.
Although Nicklaus, 62, made his 46th consecutive cut in a Senior major at the Senior PGA at Firestone, lingering back problems forced him to withdraw before the start of the third round.
Larry Nelson, a 16-time winner on the 50-and-over circuit, is still in search of his first major title as a senior. Nelson was a three-time major winner during his PGA Tour days, with two PGA Championship titles and a U.S. Open victory at Oakmont in 1983. He will be paired with Raymond Floyd, who has won four Senior majors but no U.S. Senior Opens, and Jay Sigel, who captured back- to-back U.S. Amateurs in 1982-83 and three Mid-Amateur titles in 1983, '85 and '87.
Among Floyd's four major wins on the regular tour was a 1986 U.S. Open victory at Shinnecock Hills when he was 43 years old.
Hale Irwin, who became the oldest U.S. Open champion when he won the 1990 title at Medinah at the age of 45, claimed two other U.S. Opens (1974, '79) and won Senior Opens in 1998 and 2000. He will play with 66-year-old Gary Player, who won the 1965 U.S. Open and Senior Opens in 1987 and '88, and Senior Tour rookie Ben Crenshaw, a two-time Masters champion.
Allen Doyle, named 2001 Senior Tour Player of the Year after posting two wins -- including his first major at the Senior Players Championship -- and 23 other top-10 finishes, is still seeking his first victory of the 2002 season. He will play the first two rounds with Don Pooley and 1992 U.S. Open champ Tom Kite.
Arnold Palmer, 72, the winner of three USGA titles (1954 U.S. Amateur, '60 U.S. Open, '81 U.S. Senior Open), will be paired with 1986 Senior Open winner Dale Douglass and '92 champion Larry Laoretti.