Golf

Sights & sounds: Playing the name game at U.S. Senior Open

What’s in a name?

If an errant tee shot lands in a (Dave) Bunker at the 2015 U.S. (Peter) Senior Open will that player go into a (Fred) Funk?

Those are just a few of the interesting names of players entered in the U.S. Senior Open Championship that tees off Thursday at the Del Paso Country Club. Dave Bunker is an amateur from Toronto playing in his first U.S. Senior Open. Peter Senior is an Australian pro who’s played on the Champions Tour since 2010, and Fred Funk is the 2009 U.S. Senior Open champ who’s won 17 times combined between the PGA and Champions tours.

For every (Jerry) Smith, (Steve) Jones or (Chip) Johnson playing this weekend there is a (Ian) Woosnam, a (Vincent) Buzzini and a (Lance) Ten Broeck.

First names get into mix as well. For every Tom (Watson), Rick (Gibson) and Jerry (Pate), there’s a Rocco (Mediate), Woody (Austin) and Kiyoshi (Murota). One cannot forget the player with the most fun name to pronounce – and Murota’s fellow countryman – Kohki Idoki.

Oh, and Jimmy Carter is playing, too. No, not the 39th president of the United States, but Jimmy Carter of Scottsdale, Ariz., who made $146,703 in seven Champions Tour starts last season.

Signs, signs everywhere signs

There’s a tall, white signpost near the 18th tee with 11 arrows pointing spectators to a variety of important areas such as concessions stands, first aid and the main gate where the shuttle buses gather each day for the round trip to Cal Expo.

But the bottom arrow points to the site of the 2017 U.S. Senior Open at the Salem Country Club in Peabody, Mass. That’s a 2,625-mile drive, followed by a couple of long irons, away.

Deep rough

Miguel Angel Jimenez is known for his bushy pony tail. Craig Stadler is known for his bushy moustache, so much so his nickname is “The Walrus.” So whose unique grooming would create the most trouble if an errant shot landed in their respective “rough?”

Stadler was on the practice tee Wednesday around 12:30 p.m. sporting a closely trimmed goatee, albeit bright white, which prompted one spectator to say she barely recognized the popular golfer. So, since Stadler’s new face foliage qualifies more as fringe than rough, Jimenez wins.

Japanese golfers stick together

Masahiro Kuramoto has probably never heard the Godfather phrase: “Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer.” Kuramoto, who competes and serves as chairman for PGA of Japan, has booked his practice rounds alongside other Japanese golfers in the competition.

For the past two days, Kuramoto has spent his time on the links alongside Idoki, Japan’s first male player to capture a major championship after winning the Senior PGA Championship in 2013, and Murota, who finished third in the 2011 Senior PGA Championship.

“(Kuramoto) intentionally did that because they enjoy playing with each other, they’re friends,” said Yosh Komiya, Idoki’s caddie for the day.

In the ‘loop’

Thirteen players showed up in need of a caddie. Joe Boros and Tommy Brennan hit the jackpot with Jordan Anapolsky and Patrick Cairns, respectively, two young men familiar with every inch of Del Paso, where their families are members. El Macero’s Scott Raber will loop for Mark Sanchez and Sacramento’s Alex Lara is Sonny Skinner’s right-hand man.

Jose Olivar contributed to this report, (916) 321-1231, @jpu_olivar

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