Couples hoping to get over hump at U.S. Senior Open

OMAHA, Neb. — Fred Couples feels like he’s overdue for a win. He’s played seven events on the Champions Tour this year, has been in the top five in six of them and comes into the U.S. Senior Open on Thursday off three straight runner-up finishes.

OMAHA, Neb. — Fred Couples feels like he’s overdue for a win.

He’s played seven events on the Champions Tour this year, has been in the top five in six of them and comes into the U.S. Senior Open on Thursday off three straight runner-up finishes.

“I would like to win something,” he said Wednesday, adding that he even came in second in a member-guest tournament in California last month.

Couples’ most recent victory was just under a year ago at the 2012 Senior British Open. He looked ready to win two weeks ago in the Senior Players Championship, but a back-nine collapse left him tied for second behind Kenny Perry.

Couples said his bothersome back is feeling fine, so if the man nicknamed “Boom Boom” for his prodigious drives can find the fairway at Omaha Country Club, no one would be surprised if this is the week he breaks through.

“Fred still hits the ball a tremendous distance,” Bernhard Langer said. “He hasn’t lost any distance, maybe gained some with the equipment and all that. He’s capable of producing very low scores. Wherever he tees up, he’s one of the main favourites, no doubt about it.”

Couples, Perry, Langer, Tom Watson and David Frost are among the top contenders at the 6,700-yard, par-70 Omaha Country Club.

The fourth of the five senior majors will be a test of stamina for the 50-and-over golfers, especially with weekend highs forecast in the low 90s with high humidity. The course is hilly, featuring elevation and topographical changes that belie the popular image of the central plains.

“Nebraska, you’d think flat and hot,” Perry said. “I got the hot part right, but it’s the hilliest golf course I’ve ever been on.”

Drives in the fairway will be at a premium with the rough cut high and the greens small and sloped. The 312-yard 13th hole is drivable, but the course features the second-longest par-3 in U.S. Senior Open history in the 230-yard third hole and the third-longest par-4 in the 494-yard 10th.

The 53-year-old Couples’ scaled-back schedule begins to ramp up now. After the U.S. Senior Open, he plays the British Open at Muirfield and Senior British Open at Royal Birkdale in consecutive weeks — “which might be a little much,” he said.

For a man with a notoriously bad back, the schedule is taxing, in no small part because of the challenge the Omaha Country Club presents. Even in the best of circumstances, golfers will find themselves with a good number of side-hill and downhill lies. And then there’s that gnarly, 4-inch rough.

“If I drive it in the rough and don’t have a great lie, I’m not going to do too much out of it,” Couples said. “I’ll probably play it safe.”

Roger Chapman will try to become the first defending champion to repeat since Allen Doyle in 2006. Chapman, who also won the Senior PGA Championship last year, has not been able to recapture his 2012 magic. He has one top-10 finish in 13 events.

Notable first-time entrants are Colin Montgomerie, who turned 50 last month and tied for ninth in the Senior Players Championship; Rocco Mediate, who lost a playoff to Tiger Woods in the classic 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines; and Duffy Waldorf, who has six top-10s in 11 Champions Tour events this year.

Perry, the Charles Schwab Cup points leader, is looking for his second win of the year in a senior major. He shot three straight rounds in the 60s to win the Senior Players Championship by 2 shots over Couples and Waldorf in Pittsburgh.

“Anything that has ’major’ attached to it was always my one goal,” Perry said. “Obviously, our majors out here probably are not looked upon like they are on the PGA Tour, but yet they’re still a major. It still will be attached to your name.”

Playing on the regular tour last week in West Virginia, Perry was 3 shots off the lead after two rounds of the Greenbrier Classic before ballooning to 73 on Saturday and finishing tied for 41st.

Watson shot in the 60s in three of his four rounds at the Greenbrier but tied for 38th after a 72 on Saturday. The 2014 Ryder Cup captain has two top-10 finishes in six Champions Tour events.

Just Posted

Shale oil producer seeking long-term river water supply

A company behind what is billed as Canada’s first commercial shale oil… Continue reading

Red Deer’s crisis line workers are busy dealing with multiple emergencies

Callers need everything from mental health counselling to their basic needs met

Pleaded guilty: Ex-Red Deer teacher gets 3 years for sex offences against kids

SASKATOON — A former Saskatoon teacher who admitted to sexual offences involving… Continue reading

Rental market picking up in Red Deer

There are fewer “for rent” signs in Red Deer than there have… Continue reading

Alberta government to partially backstop new $2 billion dollar bitumen upgrader

CALGARY — The Alberta government is providing a $440 million loan guarantee… Continue reading

2-for-1: Total lunar eclipse comes with supermoon bonus

On Sunday night, the moon, Earth and sun lined up to create the eclipse, which was visible throughout North and South America

Backlund scores OT winner for Calgary Flames in 3-2 win over Carolina Hurricanes

Flames 3, Hurricanes 2 (OT) CALGARY — Mikael Backlund scored 15 seconds… Continue reading

Glendening’s two-goal performance leads Red Wings past Oilers 3-2

Red Wings 3, Oilers 2 EDMONTON — Luke Glendening had a pair… Continue reading

New Canada Food Guide nixes portion sizes, promotes plant-based proteins

OTTAWA — The Canada Food Guide’s familiar food rainbow has been replaced… Continue reading

New Canada Food Guide nixes portion sizes, promotes plant-based proteins

Guide no longer lists milk and dairy products as a distinct food group

B.C. animators land Oscar nominations

‘Animal Behaviour’ by Vancouver’s David Fine and Alison Snowden among several Canadians on the short list

Canadian talent abound on newly revamped Vancouver Whitecaps squad

VANCOUVER — The Vancouver Whitecaps may need to stock up on maple… Continue reading

China demands US drop Huawei extradition request with Canada

China detained two Canadians on Dec. 10 in an apparent attempt to pressure Canada to release Meng

Most Read