Some of the best golfers on the planet are coming to the US Senior Open at Del Paso Country Club June 22-28, 2015. As Butch Cassidy said to the Sundance Kid in the 1969 film: “Who are those guys?” Sacramento Bee golf writer Steve Pajak offers his take on five players in each of the following categories:
5 under-the-radar contenders
▪ Marco Dawson: He’s hitting his stride after not winning in 413 career PGA Tour starts.
▪ Joe Durant: He’s third in Schwab Cup points and one of the most accurate drivers ever.
▪ Lee Janzen: The two-time U.S. Open winner has pedigree and new over-50 positive outlook.
▪ Tom Pernice Jr.: At a physically fit 55, he seems to be getting better, not older.
▪ Gene Sauers: The playoff loser last year in Oklahoma is due for a breakthrough.
5 certain to keep you entertained
▪ Woody Austin: He’s self-deprecating, accountable and demonstrative – a golf fan’s dream.
▪ Fred Funk: His body English when he putts is worth the price of admission.
▪ Paul Goydos: He has the game to win a Senior Open – and he has the wit of a talk-show host.
▪ Craig Stadler: In his 60s, the fire doesn’t burn as bright as it used to. Still ...
▪ Esteban Toledo: Look for the former boxer to give 1-2 air punch after he drains a key putt.
5 major players in their day, if not today
▪ Mark Calcavecchia: He rode power fade to 13 PGA Tour wins and 1989 British Open title.
▪ Fred Couples: You’ll know he’s headed your way when the crowd skews heavily female.
▪ Hale Irwin: The career leader in Champions Tour wins (45) and earnings is 70.
▪ Tom Kite: He counts the 1992 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach among his 19 PGA Tour wins.
▪ Tom Watson: Eight-time major winner might be most likely to defy his age (65).
5 with Northern California connections
▪ Terry Foreman: The amateur from Brentwood is playing in his first Senior Open.
▪ Randy Haag: The amateur from Burlingame is four-time NCGA player of the year and all-time points leader.
▪ Jim Knoll: The amateur from Sunnyvale is playing in his third Senior Open.
▪ Bob Niger: The El Dorado Hills pro has qualified for 16 Champions Tour events in five years.
▪ Jeff Wilson: The amateur from Fairfield has qualified for the past three Senior Opens.
5 of the nicest guys you’ll ever ...
▪ Michael Allen: He blossomed as a senior tour player and appreciates every minute of it.
▪ Peter Jacobsen: Colorful and engaging, his likeability quotient is off the charts.
▪ Tom Lehman: He’s as grounded as they come for being as accomplished as he is.
▪ Rocco Mediate: He’s always talking, always laughing, always playing highly competitive golf.
▪ Loren Roberts: He donated $35,000 in 2009 to save nine Elk Grove district golf programs.
5 most likely to hold the trophy
▪ Miguel Angel Jimenez: At No. 47 in world, he’s by far the highest-ranked player in the field.
▪ Bernhard Langer: He has been the dominant over-50 player in the world for the past seven years.
Colin Montgomerie: The defending champion has become a major force on the Champions Tour.
Kenny Perry: Del Paso suits great players, especially long hitters who like to draw the ball.
Vijay Singh: At 52, he’s still slugging it out and competitive most weeks on the PGA Tour.