The Old Men & The Tee

Unreal hits the links at the U.S. Senior Open

Oshita goes on to explain that he's from the same Los Angeles club as Ziegler and had to pay for his own plane ticket here, not to mention a hotel room. Thankfully, he says, his parents helped out, and his boss at the club where he caddies forked over some spending money.

Why does he think Ziegler picked him? Is it because he's the best?

"No," Oshita says. "There's not many caddies at our golf course."

This year a spectator, next year a qualifier?
Jennifer Silverberg
This year a spectator, next year a qualifier?

In fact, it turns out Ziegler ditched him a few hours ago. "He does not have a cell phone. He said he was going to come back, but that was before they announced there would be no more golf today," Oshita says.

So the two of us play Ping-Pong. We let him win a few points, figuring he might spill the beans and supply a little off-course gossip. It pays off.

The qualifiers' caddies are generally pretty friendly, Oshita reveals, but the touring pros' caddies only talk to each other. He gestures over at a man he identifies as Hale Irwin's caddie, Kenny Harms, whom we promptly approach.

Now, we're sympathetic to the plight of any Senior Open caddy, especially seeing as how in this event -- unlike the others on the so-called Champions Tour -- doesn't allow carts. The caddies are the ones who have to do all the heavy lifting. But that doesn't excuse Harms. Unreal has heard Irwin has a reputation for occasionally copping an attitude. We have absolutely no idea whether this slanderous morsel is true, but we're here to tell you that no matter how big a Big Bertha might be wedged up Irwin's butt, it can't possibly compare to the obstruction that's evidently in Harms' way.

"Do you think we could do a quick interview?" Unreal asks politely.

"Nah," says Harms, who's watching television. "Can't do it, especially since we're in Hale's hometown." His arm sweeps across the room. "But any of these other guys would be glad to do one."

Obligingly, we approach a caddie sitting a few feet away. He too turns us down.

"But he swore you'd talk to us!" we say, pointing at Harms.

"No I didn't," Harms lies, adding, "You press guys are all the same."

At this Unreal concedes defeat. Heisting a cup of coffee on the way out, we explore the course, which is empty save for a few members of the grounds crew tending to the bunkers. Before we know it, we're somewhere in the middle of rain-soaked Bellerive. It's amazing how well the drainage works, we muse.

Suddenly thinking about all that water brings to mind a matter of some urgency. Or maybe it was the coffee we just drank.

At any rate, the reporters' lavatory is miles away.

Oh well, Unreal rationalizes, a few more drops of moisture aren't going to postpone tomorrow's round.

SATURDAY
Still no sign of the Quincy Herald Whigster. Japanese journalists, however, are out in force.

"How do you like St. Louis?" we ask one whose translator tells us is from Tokyo.

"There are many traditional buildings," she replies.

Nothing like a little hometown pride. Speaking of pride, the Open's only Japanese entrant, Hajime Meshiai, birdies the eighteenth hole with a nice chip shot. Going into round three, he stands at just two over, good enough to make the cut.

A gimpy Peter Jacobsen still holds his grip on the top spot. But with 36 holes scheduled for Sunday, the question on everyone's mind is how he and his surgically repaired left hip intend to survive. At the post-round press conference, Unreal is the only media maven brave enough to actually proffer a suggestion, permitting Jacobsen to supply a ration of his trademark sense of humor:

Unreal: Do you think performance-enhancing substances -- like, say, morphine in your case -- should be allowed on the Tour?

Jacobsen: One thing about performance-enhancing drugs in these sports -- I don't think anybody could play a round of golf on anything, because your performance is going to go away. You may feel better, but.... That's why it's tough to play when it's hot and humid. You get dizzy and lose your focus, so I don't think there's any worry of that in the PGA Tour.

Unreal:But specifically in your case, what about something that could give you a little more spring in your step?

Jacobsen: The only thing that will give me more spring in my step is to lose 30 pounds before tomorrow, and to do that I'd have to hack off a leg or an arm.

George Green, our dog in this fight, has come off the course with a second-round 86, leaving him 27 over par for the tourney. "I could do that," an overweight spectator editorializes, eyeing the score placard as Green finishes up his final hole.

"How do you feel about your performance?" we ask Green afterward.

"I just had some terrible holes today," he confesses. "I had a nine on a par-four. I was missing a lot of the shorter putts, which added up."

"So, are you going to stay around?" we persist, saddened at the thought that our hero will be abandoning ship in the middle of our narrative. "Or are you heading back?"

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