Kohler, Wis. - There was not the slightest sign that gave Jon Fiedler any indication he would shoot a 3-under 69 on Thursday. Certainly not in the opening round of the U.S. Senior Open.
Fiedler, 54, of Camarillo, Calif., had played just 11 rounds this season on the Champions Tour prior to this week and only once had he shot sub-70. And in two previous U.S. Senior Open appearances, his best round was a 2-under 70 in last year's final round.
"Yesterday, if you told me I was going to shoot 69 I would say forget it, the way I'm hitting the ball right now,"
|Jon Fielder, reacting to a missed birdie on No. 17 Thursday, said he practiced in front of a mirror Wednesday. (John Mummert/USGA)
said Fiedler, who is the director of golf at the Los Posas Country Club in Camarillo, Calif. "But that's the game of golf, that's the way it goes."
Wednesday, Fiedler burned a little late night oil while working with his 4-iron in front of a mirror. A tweak here and there helped Fiedler hit 10 of 14 fairways - far away from the gunk that turns birdies into bogeys or worse - and 11 of 18 greens in regulation.
Then he needed just 26 putts in a round that featured two no-putt greens and seven one-putt greens. Fiedler deferred the credit to a local, Whistling Straits caddie Charlie Beau.
"He does a great job of reading the greens and I just follow his action," Fiedler said. "Pretty easy."
On the 18
thhole, Fiedler missed the green long and then chipped past the hole by 10 feet. He rolled in the testy putt to save par, a putt that might soothe his nerves heading into Friday's second round.
"It was really important for me because I three-putted 17 (once from the fringe)," said Fiedler, noting that he has been working with Dr. Joe Parent, author of "Zen Golf," on positive thinking and breathing and "all that garbage."
So on a first-day leaderboard that features Champions Tour regulars Eduardo Romero and Vincente Fernandez, there is Fiedler.
By virtue of his 11
th-place finish at the Champions Tour National Qualifying Tournament in November, Fiedler earned the right open qualify on Mondays or Tuesdays.
Fiedler, a former walk-on at Southern California from 1972-75 who played with Craig Stadler and two-time NCAA champion Scott Simpson, has done so three times this season and qualified for the Senior PGA Championship in May. His season has been met with just marginal success - and with frustration.
"With this situation, it's like you plan on playing [an event], you plan on staying in that city for three days," said Fiedler, who has won $17,303 in earnings. "You can't even unpack your bags until you qualify. That's what was nice about coming here, because at least I could unpack my bags, because I know I'm going to stay for a week."
Come Friday evening, his stay may be extended by another two days.
Stuart Hall is a writer for the Golf Press Association whose work has appeared previously on www.ussenioropen.com.