Notes: Rhoden could have used an early hook at Senior Open
TOLEDO, Ohio -- Rick Rhoden has gone through tough days before. Only this time, he didn't have a manager to come out and take the ball from him.
Rhoden, who pitched in the big leagues for 16 years, made his Champions Tour debut with an 8-over-par 79 in Thursday's opening round of the U.S. Senior Open at Inverness Club.
''In all games you pitch you're nervous at the start,'' said Rhoden, 151-125 with the Dodgers, Pirates, Yankees and Astros. ''I wasn't as nervous as I thought I'd be today.''
Rhoden retired after the 1989 season and has played plenty of golf in retirement -- although not the same kind many retirees do. He's a regular at celebrity events.
Moving to the center stage at a senior major is a mammoth step, however.
The 50-year-old Rhoden was even-par through the first 10 holes, then bogeyed the next five. He birdied the difficult par-5 eighth hole (his 17th of the day), then closed with a double-bogey.
''This place wears on you. You hit a bad shot or a bad club and you're going to make a bogey. Then you start making bogeys and it's hard to stop. It snowballs,'' he said. ''I knew it was going to be hard. I would like to be in a regular senior event before this one.''
Rhoden played to the crowd by wearing a Toledo Mud Hens hat.
''Maybe I'll wear a Dodger hat tomorrow,'' he said.
Defending champion Don Pooley surprised himself with a 1-over 72, and also was surprised by the course.
''It didn't play as tough as it did Monday in the practice round,'' Pooley said after his best competitive round since shoulder surgery in January. ''The greens were softer and slower.''
Gary McCord had no problem with the greens but sure had one with the pin placements.
McCord, a TV golf analyst and Champions Tour player, finished off a 73 and then shook his head.
''It was very entertaining,'' he said with a laugh. ''If you've ever put a pin on top of an igloo and putted, that's what it was like out there. Don't hit it too hard -- it's going to go off the other side. Don't hit it too short -- it'll come back at you.''
McCord said the course nearly got the best of him.
''I'm still standing up,'' he said. ''Barely.''
Randy Reznicek never saw the shot of his life.
The amateur from Vesta, Calif., aced the 168-yard 12th hole. The green on the shortest hole at Inverness Club is surrounded by deep bunkers that cut off a golfer's view of the tee shot.
''I tried to hit a 7 iron and it landed right on my target,'' said Reznicek, who shot a 79. ''I'm watching over the bunker because it's a blind shot. You can see people, you can hear a roar -- a rumble -- and then you see people are standing up and all of a sudden they raise their hands and cheer. It was an incredible feeling. I can't even express.''
It was his first hole in one; at least it was his first hole in one on a regulation-sized course.
''As a young man, I worked at a lighted par-3 golf course -- 18 par 3s,'' he said. ''Some days I'd go around that thing six or seven times and never made any.''
For a while, it appeared Arnold Palmer was well on his way to his stated goal of making the cut (and his unstated one of shooting his age, 73).
A huge gallery followed him as he teed off at No. 1 after turning the back side in 38 to stand at 2 over. But he double-bogeyed No. 1, then added three more bogeys before closing with another double and a 79.
''What (started) out to be a fair round turned out to be a lousy round,'' he said.
The final starting grid included 17 players who have won 66 major championships, 10 former Senior Open winners, 11 players who have won the U.S. Open along with 29 amateurs. ... The drives of Bob Murphy and Hubert Green ended up an inch apart in the gaping bunker left of the 17th fairway, requiring a USGA ruling. Murphy had to mark his ball before Green blasted out, then raked his lie and re-placed his ball and hit his second shot. ... One of the highest scores of the first round was amateur Dave Sergeant's 89, a lawyer from Fort Dodge, Iowa. His caddie was Mark Cady, an Iowa Supreme Court Justice. ... Leonard Thompson withdrew after six holes, saying he was experiencing chills and dizziness. He was 5 over at the time. ... Fuzzy Zoeller after shooting an even-par 71: ''My 3-wood had a minor virus in it.''
Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press