Kohler, Wis. - Experience is not always a compulsory element of success on the course.
Ron Vlosich, a 50-year-old retired golf professional from Lakewood, Colo., has never before played in a U.S. Senior Open. Nevertheless, the 2007 trophy could be within the reach for him, or another player who has no previous experience playing in the championship.
Regardless of specific reasons, three 50 year olds, Vlosich, Bruce Vaughan and Jim Woodward, three first-time Senior Open competitors, are in contention. Perhaps it is the sheer difficulty of The Straits Course at Whistling Straits that has allowed for them to finish the second round of play with positions in the top 15 of the field.
Vlosich and Jim Woodward, from Chandler, Okla., both posted two-day totals of 140 and are tied for seventh with three other players (Jeff Coston, Tom Purtzer and D.A. Weibring).
On Friday, Vlosich shot 71.
"My putting was more erratic (than Thursday)," he said. "The greens were slower from the rain."
He balanced five bogeys with six birdies.
"I salvaged the little bit of a struggle I had there," he said referring to three consecutive birdies he recorded on
|Jim Woodward successfully gets out of a greenside bunker on the eighth hole during the second round. (John Mummert/USGA)
holes three, four and five during his second half of the round.
Vaughan, from Hutchinson, Kan., finished the second round three under with a total score of 141. He is tied for 12
thwith Keith Fergus and Joe Ozaki.
After his first round, in which he shot 68, he said he was "happy."
By comparison to the first round, he did not perform as well; his score was five strokes higher.
Undoubtedly, just making the cut is a momentous achievement for all three; ending the first two days in contention, with a chance of winning, is beyond their immediate comprehension.
"I had high hopes I would play well," said Vlosich, adding that he had not been playing well this past month. "One week you're a bum in this game and then next, you're good."
As for his feelings after two rounds, he said: "I did not have any expectations. I tried to take in the moment and enjoy it as much as possible."
Certainly, there has already been much to enjoy and more to anticipate.
"It is pretty cool," said Vlosich. "It is exciting to play with people you've watched on TV all these years."
Mary Kate Brennan is an intern for the USGA. E-mail her with questions or comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.