Another tough test for seniors
POTOMAC, Md. -- It has been a tale of two seasons on the Champions Tour in 2010.
In regular 54-hole events, scores have been low - 11 tournaments have been won with sub-200 totals. The Senior PGA Championship, Senior British Open and U.S. Senior Open were grinders' specials. Through 54 holes, the Constellation Energy Senior Players Championship has been another tough test.
At five-under 205, Mark O'Meara has a two-shot lead over Loren Roberts, Russ Cochran and Michael Allen going into the final round. Only eight players are under par on the revamped TPC Potomac at Avenel Farm, old home of the Kemper Open on the PGA Tour, which was given an extreme makeover by Steve Wenzloff and Jim Hardy from 2007-2009.
"The course is very soft yet the scores are really not low," said Roberts, noting how he was hitting long approaches into heavily contoured greens. "This is a very difficult golf course. What a transformation - that's all I can say. The fairway bunkers, you can't even think about hitting the green out of them, and they've got fescue rough. You can get a club on the ball, but it's hard to play out of. It's a great course for one week a year. I don't know what the members think about it. It has got to be really hard for them. This is definitely a ball-striker's course. They really did a good job taking it to the next level."
O'Meara, who has been runner-up nine times on the Champions Tour but is looking for his first individual win (he teamed with Nick Price to win the 2010 Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf), would have had a greater cushion going into Sunday if not for two bogeys on the final three holes Saturday. "There are no easy holes," O'Meara said. "If you're just a little bit off, you can pay the price. It's a much different course. I kind of liked Avenel back in the old days, but the re-do has been tremendous."
If O'Meara is looking for an omen in his bid to break through on his own as a senior, this could be it. The last time O'Meara held a solo lead going into the final round on either the PGA or Champions tours was at the 1996 Mercedes Championships. That was one of his 16 PGA Tour victories.
-- Bill Fields