Oak Hill: Is There a Mercy Rule?

ROCHESTER, N.Y. -- The number of players who took a pass on the Senior PGA Championship is staggering, though the missing may have saved themselves a heap of aggravation. Those who chose to play were largely staggering, too. Score this one a knockout for Oak Hill CC.

Thirty-seven alternates made the field for a variety of reasons, not all of which were medical. Fulton Allem, for instance, decided he would rather play in the PGA Tour's Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial (he's a past champion there). On the basis of how difficult Oak Hill was playing through the first two rounds, he may have made the safer choice.

"Probably the toughest course I've played ever in my PGA Tour career," said Tim Simpson. And he's among those in contention, finishing 36 holes in four-over-par 144.

Cold and windy weather has compounded the difficulty quotient of a course that is challenging without help. Throw in rough that was 3 1/2 inches deep to begin the week and no further explanation is necessary as to why only one player bettered par in the first round and the entire field was over par by Friday afternoon after first-round leader Jay Haas made double-bogey on his sixth hole.

"Our group, 108 holes between the three of us for two days, we had six birdies," Joey Sindelar said. "That's pretty bizarre. It tells you that it's a pretty tough job out there."

Or as Simpson, one of his playing partners, said the day before, "I had two skins today. Sam Torrance got one there at the end on No. 8. And Joey Sindelar was shut out. Birdies are few and far between."

-- John Strege