U.S. SENIOR OPEN
Parallels to 2011, When Browne Scored a Victory at Inverness
July 2, 2017 | PEABODY, Mass.
By Ron Driscoll, USGA
Picture this: For all purposes, a two-man race on the final day of the U.S. Senior Open, with the leader seeking his first major. A venerable USGA championship course designed by Donald Ross, softened by rain as low scoring reigned. It’s happening this week at Salem Country Club, but a similar scenario came to pass six years ago at Inverness Club, in Toledo, Ohio.
Kirk Triplett – seeking his maiden major win on any tour – leads Kenny Perry by one stroke entering Sunday’s final round at Salem, with only Brandt Jobe within six strokes of the lead. In 2011, Olin Browne led Mark O’Meara by two strokes entering the final day at Inverness in 2011, with four players six strokes behind him.
Browne’s name is coming up a lot this week at Salem, partly because he opened the week with a 7-under-par 63 on a rain-softened Salem, a Ross design that opened in 1925. He followed up with a 73 on Friday, and is well back as the final round plays out. But his records from 2011 keep getting erased by Triplett, who set new 36- and 54-hole marks, thanks in part to his USGA Open championship record-tying 62 on Thursday.
Now it’s Triplett’s turn to see if he can overcome a more accomplished contemporary, Kenny Perry, who won the 2013 U.S. Senior Open at Omaha Country Club with a sizzling final 36-hole record finish of 64-63.
Like Triplett with Perry on his heels today, Browne had O’Meara, the 1979 U.S. Amateur champion and a two-time major winner, breathing down his neck at Inverness. Browne’s two-stroke advantage entering the final day was gone within four holes, thanks to two birdies by O’Meara. But Browne gritted it out on a day when he hit just seven fairways, and O’Meara blinked first in the head-to-head duel with a pair of incoming bogeys. Browne holed a long birdie putt on the final green for a 15-under-par total of 269 and a three-stroke margin of victory.
“I don’t think it matters how you win,” said Browne, then 52, after his first victory as a senior player. “I don’t think it matters whether you shoot 63 coming from the pack, or you shoot 75 after having a six‑shot lead.”
Mark Calcavecchia, who began the day six strokes back in 2011, got within two strokes at one point, but fell back and finished third, just ahead of Hale Irwin and Joey Sindelar. Jobe will be looking to play the role of Calcavecchia today at Salem and get off to a good start to put some pressure on Triplett and Perry.
Browne is the most recent wire-to-wire winner of this championship and just the fourth overall. Triplett will be looking to join him on Sunday.
“Outside of my first PGA Tour win, I think this would really be the most important thing that I would have accomplished in my career,” said Triplett on Saturday. “I’ve won some tournaments. But this is something different because I played in the USGA Public Links Championship, I played in the U.S. Amateur Championship. I played in 15-plus U.S. Opens. I’ve played in four or five of these.”
Today is his best chance so far to get his name on one of those trophies.
Ron Driscoll is the manager of editorial services for the USGA. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.