CARNOUSTIE, Scotland (July 22, 2010) -- I have had a year to think how nervous I was last July while standing on the first tee at Sunningdale in the British Senior Open, and how poorly I performed off the first tee (two snap hooks). This year I was determined not to be overly nervous -- but that just wasn’t in the cards. I oscillated between the big rescue club and the 3 wood and ultimately decided safety first as a nasty deep bunker awaits those on the right and gorse and OB guard the left.
The heart was pounding pretty good and I was able to hit a somewhat solid shot down the right side, short of the bunker. Phew -- that was done and over with. The second shot didn’t come off quite as smoothly as I basically skulled a 9-iron on a low line drive into the deep front right bunker. I seriously needed to gather myself and after a few deep breaths was able to knock a bunker shot to 10 feet and escape with a very needed par start.
The second hole didn’t go quite so smoothly! I pulled my drive into the forbidden deep left fairway bunker which only allowed me to hack it out about 50 yards down the fairway. After a pulled wedge I was faced with an easy chip shot that I just stubbed. A 25 footer for bogey slipped by and a quick double bogey smacked me right in the face.
At times like this I’ve been known to give myself a slap in the cheek to stimulate some better thinking and get fired up. What I would have NEVER guessed was it would be my last over par hole of the day…something at that time I would have given a thousand to one chance of happening. After another shaky par on three I found my groove and was able to relax a bit.
Editor's Note: Randy fired an amazing 71 in the first round, tied for 17th with favorites like Tom Lehman and David Frost. He is four back of the lead shared by Jay Don Blake, Bernhard Langer, and and Carl Mason. In the second round, he shot 77 to slide down to 54th place -- with several players left to complete their rounds he is in excellent shape to survive the 36 hole cut and only amateur Paul Simson of North Carolina has a legitimate chance to do the same as the other ams in the field are well below the cut line. To view the live leaderboard, click here>
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-- Pre-round report:
This is truly living a dream here getting ready to tee it up in the 2010 Senior Open at Carnoustie. Having an opportunity to rub elbows with the guys I grew up idolizing for over 40 years. This evening at the Championship Reception Tom Watson was awarded a Lifetime honorary membership to the European Tour. Tom’s acceptance speech was as elegant and inspiring as he has been to the game of golf.
My foursome in my first practice round was with all former PGA Tour winners Mark Weibe, Russ Cochran and Ted Schultz. These guys could not have been nicer to me and more enjoyable to play with. I had a short chat with Bernhard Langer out at the chipping range where we discussed my pal Matt Bettencourt 1st PGA tour victory at the Reno/Tahoe Open this past weekend.
Staying right here at the Carnoustie Hotel has been amazing as well, being able to walk right out and onto the practice facilities. Every blade of grass on this course is well maintained and this beast is ready to lay the hurt on us over 50 guys. Tom Watson said this is the toughest and tightest off the tee links course in the world, and I completely agree with him. As you’ll see in the photos below the large fairway bunkers are at LEAST a one shot penalty if you can get out of them. What I like better than St Andrews is that at least you can see them sticking up high above the ground daring you to take them on. The trick is to avoid them at all cost!!
Tomorrow morning I tee off at 7:40 with Gil Morgan and Mr. Harwell from Australia, it will be a lot of fun!!
The goal will be a two step process, make the cut, and then be low amateur getting an exemption into the 2011 Senior Open. I’ll have more information on each hole and how the course played tomorrow.