The gleaming U.S. Senior Open trophy that Jeff Maggert held aloft near the 18th green Sunday afternoon is one of the oldest in North American sports history. Only hockey’s Stanley Cup is older, by two years.
The U.S. Senior Open Championship has only been around since 1980, but the sterling silver, two-handled hourglass-shaped cup, now known as the Francis D. Ouimet Memorial Trophy, was first awarded in 1894 as Shinnecock Hills Golf Club in Southampton, N.Y., Saint Andrew’s Golf Club in Hastings-on-Hudson, N.Y., The Country Club of Brookline, Mass., and the Tuxedo Club of Tuxedo Park, N.Y. vied for the first American interclub championship.
The Massachusetts foursome took home the trophy, which remained in the club’s possession until the mid-1950s when they gave it to the USGA to exhibit at the its museum in Far Hills, N.J.
The Francis D. Ouimet Memorial Trophy was first awarded in 1894.
As the USGA was preparing for the first U.S. Senior Open, The Country Club suggested that the trophy be used as the formal award. Roberto De Vicenzo won the first perpetual trophy that year at Winged Foot Golf Club in Mamaroneck, N.Y., and a replica of the trophy has been given to the winner since 1997, complete with an engraving of the original 1894 Country Club team. The original trophy then was retired back to the USGA museum.
Carmichael’s Jeff Watson, who was quick to say he’s not related to pro Tom Watson, almost got up close and personal with an errant Bernhard Langer drive toward the ninth green.
Watson was working his way through the gallery to the right side of the green when Langer’s ball nearly hit him. The ball landed in some rough at the front edge of the 10th tee, a good 35 yards from the pin with a deep bunker and trees protecting the hole from his lie.
“I didn’t hear anything – nobody yelled ‘Fore!’ or anything – and suddenly I hear this small plop sound and look to my right, and there’s the ball,” Watson said. “It had to have come really close to me.”
Langer made a great chip between the trees and the grandstands then over the deep bunker and had the ball stop on the green just past the pin and saved par.
“That was an awesome shot!” Watson said, of Langer’s second shot, not the first.
Billy Andrade shot a course-record 63 at Del Paso Country Club, and perhaps Lake of the Pines (Auburn) head professional Pat Shaw had something to do with it.
Andrade said he grew up with Shaw in Rhode Island and wasn’t surprised that Shaw, his wife and their kids were decked out in red and white “Andrade’s Army” shirts and followed him over the final round.
“(Shaw) was crazy when I was 15 years old, and he’s crazy as a father today,” Andrade said. “He got all dressed up with Andrade’s Army, and his kids had – all the Rhode Island guys, Pat Horgan and myself.
“(Shaw) came out in the practice round on Tuesday with the same outfit, and they came back out again today. It was really nice to see (him) and his wife out here with their kids and all dressed up as big fans.”
Robert Logsdon of Elverta found the perfect grandstand spot to watch the action – the last row of the northeast-facing grandstands along the 18th green. He got there at 9:30 a.m. Sunday to secure a great vantage spot to spy players on the 18th and, with a 90-degree crane of his neck, players putting on the ninth green. His perch was high enough to see most of the approach shots, too.
“I got here early,” Logsdon said as he showed the back of his sunburned neck.
Logsdon was joined by Lincoln’s Gary Paige and fellow Elverta residents Pat Hughes and Anne Green. Hughes had a large 49ers umbrella to protect him and Green, his girlfriend. Green brought a Washington Redskins umbrella, which Paige was nice enough to hold for maximum shade coverage.
Up in the air
The Goodyear blimp “Spirit of America” made a rare appearance in Sacramento as it circled Del Paso for the past four days.
The Carson-based blimp, a common sight during the Kings’ glory years, will be decommissioned in August.