U.S. SENIOR OPEN
Notebook: Langer's Substitute Caddie; 18 Set Up for Drama June 26, 2015 | Sacramento, Calif. By Bill Fields

With Bernhard Langer having to scramble to find a replacement for his ailing caddie, Del Paso Country Club member Bobby Siravo stepped in. (USGA/Matt Sullivan)

Bernhard Langer is a golfer of steady habits, and when longtime caddie Terry Holt was sidelined due to an infected insect bite on his leg shortly before Langer’s first round in the U.S. Senior Open at Del Paso Country Club, the Hall of Famer didn’t have much time to find a replacement.

 “Caddies are not standing around and spending money waiting for somebody to get hurt or whatever,” Langer said. “So I was very fortunate to find Bobby.”

“Bobby” is  Bobby Siravo, a former professional and club champion at Del Paso. As a member, he is volunteer caddie chairman this week. But years ago, he caddied on the PGA Tour for Sacramento brothers Kevin and David Sutherland, so he knows the ins and outs of looping for prominent players. When Holt, Langer’s caddie for nine years, couldn’t go, Siravo changed out of his volunteer shirt for a white one he bought in the merchandise tent and went to work.

Langer opened with a 1-over 71, but with Siravo still on the bag, rebounded with a 66 Friday to get in contention at 3-under 137 through 36 holes.

“He’s a wonderful guy, great gentleman, and we loved being out there together,” Langer said of Siravo. “We had a good time. Obviously, I can’t expect him to club me or do any of that, so I get my own yardages. I play in meters. We discuss the putting line and little details on the green, and he’s very encouraging. That’s really all I need.”

Siravo’s stint with the 2010 U.S. Senior Open champion might not be over.

“[Holt’s] leg swelled up big-time,” Langer said. “It was painful. They put him on an IV drip yesterday to get the antibiotic into the system faster. Now, we’re hoping for the swelling and the whole reaction to go down so he can walk again and go back to normal life.”

Langer struck the ball better during most of the second round than he had the previous day, but sprayed some shots on his second nine.

“I started off really well, then started hitting it sideways the last three or four holes,” he said. “That’s going to punish you here sooner or later. I need to get my swing in order.”

Now that he has a capable substitute, he will not fret about the caddie situation.

Former MLB All-Star Hanson Relishes Senior Open Appearance
Erik Hanson has been an avid and successful amateur golfer in the Pacific Northwest since he retired from professional baseball in 2000 after 11 years as a Major League pitcher. He plays a dozen or more tournaments annually, but his first appearance in the U.S. Senior Open was his biggest stage.

“It was quite an experience,” said Hanson, 50, of Kirkland, Wash., who shot 78-76 to miss the cut. “I came here with no expectations, but Del Paso was a real test. If you missed a fairway or green, you didn’t have much. There were a lot of long holes, so I considered it a par 74.”

Hanson, who played with the Seattle Mariners, Cincinnati Reds, Boston Red Sox and Toronto Blue Jays, was a member of the 1995 American League All-Star team when he was with the Red Sox. He didn’t practice much for two weeks prior to the Senior Open due toa body plagued by injuries suffered from many years in sports, including a right ankle that might have to be replaced.

“I’m like a New York City cab, not that old of a model but with a lot of miles,” said Hanson, who has also dealt with shoulder, knee and back issues. “I’m day to day in golf because of all the wear and tear I have on me from 25 years training for other stuff.”

Hanson was at Wake Forest University in the mid-1980s with Billy Andrade and Jerry Haas, but didn’t take up golf until a decade later.

“I was a once-a-week guy, about an 8 handicap, but I kept playing more and whittling it down,” Hanson said. “I was down to about a plus-4 when I was playing well in my late 30s and early 40s. I wasn’t gifted in golf, but I have enough eye-hand coordination to get it around.”

He is asked often whether he is going to turn professional and try to play the Champions Tour, but Hanson, who won the 2005 Oregon Open, has no delusions.

“I’m not even close to good enough,” he said. “And even if I got two or three strokes better, I’m still not good enough. To me, the difference between a bogey golfer and a scratch player is the same difference between a plus-3 and a plus-6.”

Hanson was drawn to golf because it has given him a competitive outlet since he left baseball.

“Getting the juices flowing is what it’s all about,” he said. “You like to get yourself in contention. That’s why I try to play 12 to 15 tournaments a year. It’s fun to be in the heat of battle when in play at the local or regional level. I felt more at ease in this tournament than I do in a lot of the ones I play in.”

Finishing Hole Could Create Weekend Drama
The par-4 18th hole at Del Paso Country Club could play prominently in determining the 36th U.S. Senior Open champion.

A classic 460-yard dogleg-left to an uphill green fronted by heavy rough and a ravine, the 18th has played as the third-most difficult hole through two rounds with a stroke average of 4.37.

“I like it. It’s a tough hole,” said Corey Pavin, famous for his execution on another difficult finisher, No. 18 at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club, where he won the 1995 U.S. Open. “It’s a draw shot off the tee, but you have to choose your line. You can be really aggressive and try to get your ball way down there. I don’t mind leaving it back about 200 yards and have a rescue or hybrid instead of a 4-iron from a shorter distance.”

“It’s a beautiful hole,” said Woody Austin, who is at 3-under 167 through 36 holes. “You’ve got to hit it in the fairway. “That’s nice when you actually have to hit it in the fairway to do something. That makes for a good hole.”

If a golfer is too cautious about the fairway bunkers on the left, an approach from the right rough is no bargain either.

“It’s a great finishing hole,” said Scott Dunlap. “Put it in the fairway and have a 7-iron in your hand, 3 is maybe on offer. Hit from the right rough into the hazard, and you make 6. It’s fantastic.”

Cut Comes at 5-over 145
Hale Irwin’s second round was marred by a quadruple-bogey 8 on the 16th hole, but the 70-year-old finished 36 holes at 3-over 143 and made the 36-hole cut by two strokes. Irwin, the U.S. Senior Open champion in 1998 and 2000, who is playing in his 20th U.S. Senior Open , shot 73 Friday to make the cut after missing it two of the last three years.

The cut for the low 60 and ties came at 5-over 145, with 72 golfers advancing to the weekend at Del Paso Country Club.

Notables missing the cut included John Cook and Joe Durant (147), Mark Calcavecchia (150) and Roger Chapman (152).

Mark O’Meara, who shot a first-round 69, withdrew before the second round due to a foot injury. Steve Lowery, who shot 70 on Thursday, withdrew due to a back injury.

Carter Nearly Ties Championship’s Bogey-Free Mark
Jimmy Carter heads into the final 36 holes of the U.S. Senior Open tied for fourth place at 4-under 136, thanks in large part to a 32-hole stretch without a bogey.

Carter shot a bogey-free 67 Thursday and went 14 holes without a bogey Friday before hitting his approach into a bunker on his 15th hole (the par-4 sixth) and failing to get up and down. He shot even par over his final three holes to post a 69.

Joey Sindelar and amateur Tim Jackson each went 33 holes without a bogey in the 2009 U.S. Senior Open at Crooked Stick. Carter’s streak this week wasn’t the longest of his career.

“I don’t know exactly, but I've gone close to three rounds [without a bogey],” Carter said. “I've never gone a whole week. That would be nice.”

Keymont Aces No. 2
Teaching pro Mike Keymont, 54, of Orlando, Fla., recorded the first hole-in-one in a U.S. Senior Open since D.A. Weibring in 2011, acing the 155-yard second hole.

“I hit a nice, easy 8-iron and got it over the bunker and I just saw it get closer and closer,” Keymont said. “I was hoping to stay on the green, to be honest with you. Everything’s been running off the green, and it went in.”

Bill Fields is a Connecticut-based freelance writer.

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