Notebook: Of Oklahomans, ball talk and Hale's putting
Do the five Oklahomans -- three of whom are from Edmond -- in the Senior PGA Championship enjoy a home-course advantage? Does Bob Tway enjoy watching golf as much as he does playing it? And what in the world is wrong with Hale Irwin's putter?
By T.J. Auclair, Junior Editor
EDMOND, Okla. -- There are five Oklahomans in the field at the 67th Senior PGA Championship. They are: David Edwards, Stillwater; Doug Tewell, Edmond; Mark Hayes, Edmond; Gil Morgan, Edmond; and Ron Streck, Tulsa.
While Tewell, the 2000 Senior PGA Champion, is happy to be home, he doesn't necessarily feel there is any type of home-course advantage. Yes, he plays at Oak Tree often. However, the major championship set-up of a course like this is far different than it plays for the membership.
"I don't really feel like I have an advantage," he said. "I'm trying to figure out if I do. But I can't find one. But like I said, come Thursday morning at 8:30 I'm going to really put the blinders on and the ear plugs in and try to grind it out. I want to hear the folks, but I just want to really be focused on my game and like I say, make them proud."
So, no advantage, huh?
"If there's an advantage for me, it's just that I understand some places that you just absolutely don't want to hit it," he said. "There's just certain holes where I know to maybe be coming up on the short side or stay away from the long side, so if there's an advantage, that would be it. And understanding the wind here. As you can tell, it gusts and it lays down and gusts and you just sort of have to, in some ways, not get to fighting it so much, which I think a lot of players tend to do when they don't play in a lot of wind."
As for Morgan, he said that playing at home can be sort of a distraction.
"Obviously we might have a little bit of local knowledge compared to some of the players, not a lot, because I don't really play day in, day out all the time here," he said. "But I come and practice and play a few holes from time to time when I'm off. Most of the time I'm trying to get away from it, but at the same time this week I think, obviously, we got a lot of friends and relatives that are going to stop by and say hello, that type of situation, see them for dinner and stuff.
"I've got relatives coming in from out of state and a lot of friends coming from different places. So I think that aspect of it makes it a little bit more nerve wracking for our local players, plus the concept that we ought to be doing really well. I think that puts a little more added pressure on us to be competitive and to play well. In some respects it's a positive [to play at home] and I think that it kind of balances out with some of the other negative aspects."
Ball Talk: From the lowly hacker to the Tiger Woods, everyone talks to their golf ball.
But don't put two-time U.S. Open champ Curtis Strange on that list. He insists he never talks to the ball.
"I don't call it dirty names," he joked. "I really don't. I call myself dirty names, but not the ball. It's not the ball's fault. It's not the arrow, it's the indian. I do believe that."
But there are a bunch of guys out on the Champions Tour who do talk to their golf ball, right?
"Oh yeah," Strange said. "They've always done it. Those who do it now did it 30 years ago. The one thing you'll notice out here on the Senior Tour -- the guys are all the same as they've been the last 35 years. Nothing's changed. The guys that talked, the guys that complained, the guys that had good attitudes, whatever. They're all the same."
Tway Sighting: PGA Tour player and 1986 PGA Champion Bob Tway makes his home just around the corner from the Oak Tree Golf Club. Used to honing his skills on the practice range in the days leading up to a major championship, Tway was instead a spectator on Tuesday.
You see, at 47 Tway is too young to be mixing it up with the 50-and-over crowd here at the Senior PGA Championship. He's certainly not in envy of their age, but is he at all jealous over the fact that there's a major at his home course that he can't play in?
"I'm not jealous," he said. "I think it's wonderful. I'm just glad we get to showcase a great golf course that we have, so I think it's great."
Since he's not playing, Tway is more than happy to play gracious host to both Curtis Strange and Jay Haas.
While on the practice range, Haas joked about his accommodations saying, "Yeah, it's nice. I think I'm in like the East Wing or something."
So what's it like for Tway to watch?
"It's different to be here just watching as opposed to playing. It's a whole different mindset," he said. "I won't come over and watch that much. I'm just going to walk with Curtis and Jay a little bit today and then I'll go back over to the country club to practice and try and get ready for Memorial next week. It's different for me to stand around and watch as opposed to getting ready to play."
Major Differences: Aside from the majors, which are four rounds, most of the events on the Champions Tour are played over three rounds.
With the added day and the gravity of a prestigious tournament like the Senior PGA Championship, the routine of the player changes a bit, as four-time Senior PGA Champion Hale Irwin eloquently pointed out on Tuesday.
"I don't arrive on Monday to a regular Champions Tour event," Irwin said. "I will not, at a regular tournament, have played 18 holes already. Most likely I wouldn't be in the press room on a Tuesday. I would be preparing for a pro-am on Wednesday or perhaps Thursday. There are a lot of differences."
Irwin, who has truly dominated the Champions Tour with his 44 wins, has yet to chalk up a victory this season in 11 tries. The problem, he said, is the short stick.
"Just put it in two words," he said. "Poor putting. Tee to green I've hit the ball well enough. I made a few mistakes along the way. Like hitting a 7-iron into the water at the last hole. I had an opportunity to win more than just one occasion. So it has not been from a lack of opportunities, it's been a just generally poor putting. There's just no other way to put it. I've gone through, over the last probably five or six events guessing an average of two, three putts per round, in one case I had four three-putt greens. In one case I had one four-putt green, which is always really delightful.
"So it has not been a case of poor ball-striking, poor execution, it's just been very poor putting. This week I'm probably going to be using a different putter, which is yet to be announced to the starting lineup. I simply need something different. And this being a very important week, why not? I can't think of a reason to stay with what I've been doing. I can think of all sorts of reasons to change. So that's it, just poor putting."