Teeing off Thursday morning well ahead of most of their nearest
pursuers, Haas and Barr took advantage of light winds and soft
greens and each fired a 3-under 67 to share the first-round lead in
the U.S. Senior Open.
As expected, the heavy rough and roly-poly greens proved tough
on the over-50 field, especially in the afternoon when winds
increased and tightened the short-but-narrow Prairie Dunes course.
"At times it blew a little bit on certain holes," said Haas,
who won the Senior PGA this year and is shooting for his second
straight senior major title. "It kind of kicked up. But on the
difficult holes it seemed like it was mostly helping, or not really
too bad. We heard horror stories here if it goes to 20, 25 [mph].
So we're pretty fortunate today and I'm thrilled to death to get in
One stroke behind the leaders at 68 were D.A. Weibring and three
international golfers -- Massy Kuramoto of Japan, Graham Marsh of
Australia and Mark James of England.
Doyle, whose closing-round 63 gave him the U.S. Senior Open
championship last year, had a double-bogey on the par-4 eighth
after hitting into rough which Barr described as "like a wire
Haas, who beat Brad Bryant on the third playoff hole for the
Senior PGA Championship this year, sank an 8-foot putt to salvage
bogey on the par-3 fourth after encountering rough.
"I got away with a couple of bad shots," said Haas, a
three-time winner this year.
Then he birdied the next three holes.
"Just those three key putts right in there, that was my round
right there, I think."
Haas also bogeyed the 452-yard ninth, which had a particularly
difficult pin placement on the undulating green, but finished with
birdies on No. 11 and 17.
His second shot on the par-5 17th, a 5-wood, rolled onto the
green. He two-putted from there.
"My putt had like 15 feet of break. If I would have missed the
left low, it would have gone down probably 15 feet below the
hole," he said. "And if I would have gone the other way, it would
have missed 10 feet to the right. So I rolled it down to about a
foot and a half. That one was maybe the best shot of the day I
Barr, not even among the list of top 100 money-winners this year
which Haas heads, had four birdies and one bogey in his best round
in five Senior Opens.
"I just happened to keep it in play most of the day," Barr
said. "I think I only missed two fairways. You just kind of take
what the course gives you, or what the wind gives you."
Doyle, who had five birdies, knew he might have been better off
with an early tee time.
"We started to get some hard greens," he said. "I don't know
what it was like this morning, obviously. I'm sure they were
softer. But they really started to firm up this afternoon and the
ball started to run out."
But he was a fan of the Prairie Dunes layout.
"It's kind of nice to get to a place where you've really got to
think on every shot."
Quigley, who shot a 9-under-par 63 in the closing round to win
last week's Greater Kansas City Golf Classic, eagled the par-5
seventh hole but then double-bogeyed the tough eighth.
Kansas City native Watson, as he always does, drew the biggest
gallery in his home state.
"A 70 is a good score on this golf course," Watson said.
"It's fun playing in front of your home crowd. I just hope to do
well and make a few more birdies than I did today."