Kohler, Wis. - After a hard-fought bogey on the 18
thhole Saturday at Whistling Straits, Eduardo Romero grabbed at his wallet on his right hip, and smiled. After all, a five was two strokes better than what the first-round leader posted Friday on the home hole when he slashed his way to a triple-bogey.
"Wow, it's a good hole," Romero said. "It's cost me a lot of money."
The cash register was wailing during the third round of U.S. Senior Open as participants wended their way through the closing stretch of devious holes on the Straits Course at Whistling Straits. Buttressed by an intensifying wind, the Straits Course grew increasingly uncompromising, but it was the final leg of the layout that proved most perplexing and put the kibosh on many promising rounds.
"With this wind, it's very hard," said Romero, who bogeyed two of his final four holes in a 1-under 71. "And then
|The wind picked up Saturday at Whistling Straits. Des Smyth checks its direction before playing a shot. (John Mummert/USGA)
you just have to play the back nine and it's very difficult â€¦ 16, 17 18, you never know what will happen."
"Don't forget 15 in that mix," cautioned D.A. Weibring, one of only three men on the leaderboard to cover holes 15-18 under par.
The final accounting shows that 18 and 17 were the two most difficult holes on Saturday, with the 17
more than a half-stroke over par and 450-yard 18
th, playing .726 strokes more than its par-4 standard. No surprise, but the two also were the toughest for hitting the green in regulation.
thyielded just one birdie - by Weibring, but induced 26 bogeys (compared to 26 pars) and nine more scores of double bogey or more.
th, a 440-yard par-4, played as the sixth most difficult and only coughed up six birdies, as did the 17
th. Even though the 16
this a par-5, it played into the wind as well and could hardly be classified as susceptible to a routine par.
th, meanwhile, was just nasty, playing 216 yards into the breeze, but requiring a shot of about 240. A lot of scorecards went to die there, none more so than Loren Roberts'. His tee shot burrowed completely into a bunker right of the green, forcing him to take a drop and resulting in a double bogey.
Maybe the last four holes deserve their own name, like Amen Corner. How about 'Dire' Straits?
"Unless you hit perfect shots, you're going to be scrambling every time, and that's something you can't do," said David Eger, who shot an early 69 before the breeze freshened but still bogeyed three of the last four holes. "There is no allowance for scrambling out here."
He means no margin for error. Scrambling in this championship is turning into a way of life, especially coming home.
Dave Shedloski is a freelance writer whose work has appeared previously on www.ussenioropen.com.