Kohler, Wis. - As Allen Doyle made his way down the 18
thfairway toward the final green at Whistling Straits early Friday afternoon, his playing partners, Loren Roberts and U.S. Senior Amateur champion Mike Bell, loitered behind, letting Doyle enjoy a moment alone on the stage he had ruled the previous two summers.
This time, he would be leaving the U.S. Senior Open empty-handed and way too soon.
"He's the two-time reigning champion; that was his last hole as reigning champion, and you have to honor that," said Roberts, the consummate sportsman and gentleman.
Indeed, Doyle's run was over, and it was probably over before he even began the second round at Whistling Straits. Earlier Friday, Doyle had completed a dreadful 11-over-par 83, and even though the old hockey player applied some ice to his psyche, an even-par 72 in the afternoon wasn't going to reach the goal of making the 36-hole cut, the first time he had failed to advance to the weekend in his nine appearances.
"Golf is a game â€¦ when you're on, you can make things happen," said Doyle, 59. "When you're a little off,
|Hale Irwin was a surprise casualty Friday, frustrated afterward with how he's been playing the past month. (John Mummert/USGA)
sometimes you just can't make them happen, and that's the way it was (Thursday). We'll go home with two trophies in the case and I guess we gotta be happy."
Asked if pressure played a role in his dismal showing, Doyle said, "You know, it probably did. That's why when everyone was saying â€¦ three-peat, I tried to underplay it and downplay it, but I was saying there's a reason why no one has done it."
If Doyle was somewhat of a surprise casualty, then the departure of Hale Irwin was both a shock and a monumental occurrence in this championship.
Irwin, 62, the most successful player in Champions Tour history and a two-time Senior Open champion, missed the cut for the first time in 12 appearances, shooting a 73 to go with an opening 76 for a 5-over 149 total, one outside the margin. He had several birdie opportunities on the inward nine, including an 8-footer at the home hole after a splendid approach, but he pushed the putt.
"I knew I needed that putt, but I didn't get it done and I didn't get it done all week," Irwin said. "I haven't played well for a month and I'm tired of it."
Sixty-two players advanced to the final 36 holes with aggregate totals of 148 or better.
Among other notables sent packing were a number of former champions. That list included Dave Eichelberger, Larry Laoretti, Graham Marsh, Dave Stockton, and Dale Douglass, the oldest player in the field at age 71 who was making his 22
Other casualties: former U.S. Amateur champion John Harris, who like Irwin missed by a stroke after a 76, and former U.S. Open winner Hubert Green, who posted 75-150. Harris had hovered around par for most of his two rounds, but suffered a quadruple-bogey 8 on the par-4 sixth hole, his 15
thof the day, and couldn't rebound.
Five amateurs made the cut, led by Brady Exber, who shot a pair of 73s for 146. He was followed by Danny Green, the 1999 U.S. Mid-Amateur champion, who posted 72-145. The others: Marty West (73-148), Jim Knoll (72-148) and George Zahringer (73-148). Zahringer, winner of the 2002 Mid-Amateur, set the amateur scoring mark of 288 in the 2005 Senior Open at NCR Country Club in Kettering, Ohio.
Dave Shedloski is a freelance writer whose work has appeared previously on www.ussenioropen.com.