SAMMAMISH, Wash. - The Champions Tour has a few tournaments that stand above the others. The Senior PGA Championship. Last week's Senior British Open at Carnoustie. This week's U.S. Senior Open at Sahalee CC.
The calendar doesn't make much sense when it has two of the senior tour's five majors - and two of its biggest events - in consecutive weeks. When there is an eight-hour time difference between them, as is the case this year, it is even more awkward.
"I have a 1 p.m. tee time [Thursday], which for my body is 2 p.m.," Senior British Open champion Bernhard Langer said. "So I'm playing from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. more or less, which is not the ideal time to play golf under any circumstances, and certainly not in a major on a golf course like this. It's a terrible schedule, it really is."
Television contracts are the reason. The Senior British Open is the week after the British Open and is televised by ESPN, which has the three Opens in Great Britain. The U.S. Senior Open has to be in a window that works for NBC, which broadcasts the USGA's three Opens.
The seniors will have to play the British and U.S. Senior Opens back-to-back again in 2011, but the schedule will change in 2012 when the U.S. Senior Open will be played July 12-15 and the Senior British Open July 26-29.
Langer can hope he fares as well in the first round at Sahalee as Tom Watson and Loren Roberts, who share the early lead at two-under along with Mike Reid through eight holes after playing two consecutive weeks in Great Britain. A good opening score would be a balm for anybody's jet lag.
-- Bill Fields