Notebook: Bummed Loren; gentleman Brad; dandy Dana
Thanks to Jay Haas, Loren Roberts is no longer the hottest player on the Champions Tour, and Roberts knows why. Also, Brad Bryant could not be more gracious in defeat, Hanefeld's fine closing round more from Oak Tree Golf Club.
By T.J. Auclair, Junior Editor
EDMOND, Okla. -- Aside from Jay Haas, Loren Roberts has been the hottest player on the Champions Tour in 2006.
His 2-over-par 73 in the final round at Oak Tree Golf Club was surprising, but not the kind of surprising you might be thinking.
Throughout his round, Roberts leaned into his caddie on a number of occasions and said, "I can't believe how bad I'm hitting it. I'm not hitting it anywhere close to where I'm looking."
That said, it was a good 73. But, don't tell Roberts that.
"Myself personally, I really just haven't hit the ball good enough," Roberts said. "I couldn't drive it in the fairway, I was missing greens with 8 irons, I'm just not swinging very good right now. And I didn't putt well either."
GRACEFUL IN DEFEAT: Maybe Brad Bryant didn't win the 67th Senior PGA Championship, but as the adage goes, "you learn more about a man in defeat than in victory."
So what did we learn about Bryant?
For one, he's a gentleman. Two, it seemed like he was just as happy about Jay Haas winning as Jay Haas himself was.
"Jay is such a great player, Jay will be a great champion for this championship," he said. "I think that that's good. It's good to have a major player win a major championship. Not that I wouldn't be a great champion, but you know, when you look at it, Jay's been such a great player for such a long time, he deserves a major. He deserves a major quite honestly more than I do. I'm glad he won. He's a tremendous man."
When told of Bryant's kind words, Haas returned the love.
"I think Brad's a heck of a player and I think he's gotten better, I think he will probably tell you the same thing," Haas said. "To have him say that, that's pretty neat because I think Brad's a heck of a guy, he's a champ. He's a champ in life, he hasn't changed one bit from the first day I met him. Brad is Brad and he's somebody I would go fishing with."
DANA DANDY: Dana Quigley's fourth-place finish with a 2-under-par total at Oak Tree was promising, as it was his best finish of the year on the Champions Tour.
It was also a nice follow up to his runner-up performance in the 2005 Senior PGA Championship.
"I'm very, very happy to get in here 2 under in these conditions on this hard golf course," he said. "At almost 60 years old, I'm very happy with it, believe me. It's just another great thrill for me."
TOUGHER? REALLY?: While scores were far better Sunday than they were Saturday, Tom Watson thought the course played more difficult.
"It was tougher today," Watson said. "The pin positions were more difficult today. They were as tough as they were going to get today. You really had to play away from the pins a lot today. You couldn't hit at the holes. The smart players are going to play well and if you're not playing well, you're going to shoot 79 like I did."
Watson had a 74 on Saturday and with Sunday's 79, he finished in a tie for 23rd.
LOW CLUB PROS: Kirk Hanefeld, a PGA Professional from Massachusetts, turned in an impressive 3-under-par 68 in the final round of the 67th Senior PGA Championship. That was by far the best of the PGA Professionals who made the cut.
Hanefeld had just one bogey in his stellar round. It came at the fourth hole and he followed it up with back-to-back birdies.
"I was very pleased with that," Hanefeld said of his 68, which tied him for 19th in his first Senior PGA Championship. "I made a couple of hiccups during the course of the round, but for the most part it was pretty much as good as I could play. There were tough conditions again today and the golf course was very hard. I was very happy with the final result."
It was an incredible bounce back for Hanefeld, who shot an 8-over-par 79 in the third round.
"Yesterday the 79, I just, I let it get away from me a little bit," he said. "The wind was just really tough. Seventy-nine was a bad score, although I didn't really feel like I played anywhere near that bad. I came back today with a good score. So that was great."
Perry Arthur, the Director of Golf at the Dye Course at Stonebridge Ranch Country Club in McKinney, Texas, was the next-best PGA Professional. He tied for 52nd with a one-over-par 72.
"Being a club pro, coming to a tournament like this, the first priority is wanting to make the cut, which I achieved," he said. "That's going to carry me further down the road as I go to the National Club Pro in June and other tournaments down the road."
WHAT WIND?: Despite the windy conditions, there were some fine rounds turned in at Oak Tree Golf Club Sunday. One of the very best was a 5-under-par 66 by Bob Gilder.
Gilder, who started the round at 10 over par, played the back nine first. He opened the day with birdie and after birdies at Nos. 16 and 18, he made the turn at 7 over.
The solid play continued on the front as he collected birdies at Nos. 2, 4 and 6. He had just a single bogey in the round, which came at No. 9, his last hole of the day.
Making the round all the more impressive was the fact that Gilder was operated on Saturday night to remove a kidney stone.
"I was just very happy to be here today," he said. "I ended up in the hospital last night, getting a kidney stone operation. I had a stent [instrument that allows the urine to drain from the kidney down the ureter to the bladder] put in. I was just very happy to be here today. It was just pretty much a battle out there. I was just trying not to overswing and I hit some really good shots out there. I only had a chance for bogey a couple of times and I bogeyed this last hole? I don't know how to understand it. I mean, you play great one day and nothing goes right the other day and it's just one of those days that went right. I needed it and I'm just happy I'm here."
ELBOWING PAR: It took four rounds, but Doug Tewell -- an Oak Tree member -- was pleased to break par with a 1-under-par 70 in the final round at his home club.
Tewell played through pain all week with an elbow injury.
"Honestly, it hurts the most when I'm hitting the long irons," said Tewell, who finished in ninth place. "For some reason when I get that 3- and 4-iron, that's where I feel it and I hit these tail fades all the time. Today I hit two of them and I missed the green right and it cost me two bogeys. But I just go, you know. You've got to smarten up and play farther to the left when you get a long iron in your hand. You just play that big slider. That's what you do when you get older, you start throwing junk up there."
Even though he knew it was bound to be windy on his home track, Tewell said he wished it wouldn't have been as breezy.
"I would rather it have been a little bit tamer and where we could tuck the pins a little bit more," he said. "Certainly the wind dictated a lot of interesting shots today. I saw Bruce Lietzke hitting his shot to the eighth hole when I was playing the sixth. I thought, 'He's got no chance. He can't start it far enough out on the like to hit to that pin.' I thought, it's just a shame because it kind of takes that hole away from him."