The second round, scheduled to begin at 7:30 a.m., will commence at 10:15 a.m. The final afternoon pairing, which was supposed to go off at 2:45 p.m., is now 5:15 p.m.
There is a chance of scattered thunderstorms Friday afternoon in northern Ohio, but the forecast for Saturday and Sunday is good.
Olin Browne shot a seven-under 64 Thursday to take a two-stroke lead over Michael Allen and Mark O'Meara.
-- Bill Fields
TOLEDO, Ohio - What a difference a year makes.
At the 2010 U.S. Senior Open, held at Sahalee CC just outside Fred Couples' hometown of Seattle, Couples was the story of the week, drawing large galleries and dueling eventual winner Bernhard Langer. It was a microcosm of the year, as Couples played 17 Champions Tour events, winning four times and energizing the senior circuit in his rookie season.
Couples is absent from this week's U.S. Senior Open at Inverness Club, having withdrawn last week citing back issues. The 51-year-old has played only three times on the Champions Tour in 2011, most recently in early May at the Regions Tradition, where he was T-63 after closing rounds of 77-77. His last competitive appearance came a month later at the Memorial, where he missed the cut. In addition to his chronic back problem, Couples also had cancerous lesions removed from both hands.
(Instruction: See how Freddie bombs it off the tee)
Next week's Champions Tour stop, the 3M Championship in Blaine, Minn., is promoting Couples on its website as one of the "expected golfing legends" in the field and says he has committed to play.
If Couples does compete, perhaps it will get a lost year going. Other than the run he had at Riviera in the Northern Trust Open, where he was T-7, and a T-5 at the Toshiba Classic on the Champions Tour in March, this season couldn't be more different from his upbeat 2010, when in addition to his four wins, Couples had four runner-up finishes and five other top-10s.
-- Bill Fields
(Photo: Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
TOLEDO, Ohio -- Those critical of Tiger Woods' decision to part ways with caddie Steve Williams don't understand the delicate nature of the player-caddie relationship in professional golf, said Champions Tour player John Cook.
"Whether you have thought about it [firing a caddie] for one minute or five weeks, once there is doubt in your head it's there and you have to act on it because you're always thinking about it. It's always there," Cook said Wednesday at Inverness Club where he is competing this week in the U.S. Senior Open. "They [Woods and Williams] had kind of been on edge, and once you're on edge, it's time. There's really no way to walk back from that."
Woods announced after the Open Championship that he and Williams no longer would be working together, though he informed Williams of his decision during the week of the AT&T National. Williams had been on the bag for 13 of the 14 major championships Woods won.
TOLEDO, Ohio -- The greens at Inverness Club aren't the smallest in golf, but expansive they're not. Tricky, they are.
While a lot has been made of how a different routing is in effect for the 32nd U.S. Senior Open -- holes 3-7 are being swapped with holes 12-16 to improve gallery movement as the club tries to put on its best face for the USGA to attract another U.S. Open -- Inverness' putting surfaces will have more to say about who does well this week.
Inverness' well-guarded eighth green.
Inverness' greens average only 5,500 square feet, about 1,000 square feet less than a typical tournament course. Hitting them won't be easy; solving them will be harder. "The greens are probably the toughest greens you'll find anywhere, as difficult as Augusta, maybe even harder at times because Augusta has some flat areas," defending U.S. Senior Open champion and two-time Masters champion Bernhard Langer. "Here, there are very few. It's almost impossible to find a straight putt. Every putt breaks once, twice, sometimes three or four times, so it's very severe."
Harbour Town (where the greens average 3,700 square feet), the Stadium course at TPC Sawgrass and Riviera CC (each about 4,500 square feet) are three venues with smaller greens, but the Bentgrass/Poa anua surfaces at Inverness are more dastardly. "They're way trickier than Harbour Town," said Tom Lehman. "Harbour Town has much more flat surfaces. These just have beautiful rolls within the green."
TOLEDO, Ohio -- Thirty-two years is a long time. If someone at the U.S. Senior Open doesn't think so, he just needs to walk out to the eighth tee at Inverness Club.
The "Hinkle Tree," was a modest, scraggly Black Hills Spruce about 15 feet tall when it was hastily planted on USGA orders after the first round of the 1979 U.S. Open to try to prevent Lon Hinkle and Chi Chi Rodriguez from repeating the dramatic shortcut they took on the par-5 eighth hole in the first round. (The arboreal audible didn't work; the golfers again hit tee shots into the adjacent 17th fairway so they would have shorter approaches to No. 8.)
The "Hinkle Tree" is directly behind the marshal's paddle as Tom Jenkins tees off No. 8 in a practice round.
There won't be any shortcuts taken at Inverness' 566-yard eighth hole this week. The infamous tree is now at least 40 feet tall and has been joined by a couple of other large trees on the left side of the tee, creating a veritable evergreen wall.
TOLEDO, Ohio -- It's not a foregone conclusion that golfers with formidable résumés on the PGA Tour will -- at the very least -- taste victory on the Champions Tour, but the odds certainly are with them.
Of the players who won at least 10 times on the PGA Tour, turned 50 since the senior circuit began in 1980 and played a minimum of 20 tournaments with the 50-and-over crowd, only seven have not won at least once on the Champions Tour. Ben Crenshaw, with 174 senior appearances, has the longest drought, followed by Calvin Peete (158), Curtis Strange (94), Mark McCumber (91), Hal Sutton (53), Mark Calcavecchia (26) and Corey Pavin (24).
While Crenshaw practiced hard at the far end of the Inverness Club range Tuesday afternoon in preparation for this week's U.S. Senior Open, the sweet-putting Hall of Famer is 59. A victory, however popular it would be, isn't likely to happen at this stage of the likable Texan's career.
More intriguing is when the relative senior newcomers Calcavecchia and Pavin will break through and if it could be at this week's major championship. Each of the 51-year-old former major champions (Calcavecchia at the 1989 British Open, Pavin at the 1995 U.S. Open) has been a leader-board presence on the Champions Tour. Over two seasons, Calcavecchia has 13 top 10s in 27 starts, Pavin 13 in 26 starts. They were also key figures in last week's Senior British Open at Walton Heath GC, Calcavecchia finishing second to Russ Cochran and Pavin T-3.