U.S. SENIOR OPEN
Round 4: Five Things to Watch for
August 14, 2016 | COLUMBUS, OHIO
By Dave Shedloski
Welcome to the final round of the 37th U.S. Senior Open at Scioto Country Club, where a winner will likely be crowned after 72 holes. Here are some things to watch for today as Miguel Angel Jimenez tries to win his first USGA championship with a capable group of pursuers on his heels.
The Leader: Miguel Angel Jimenez hasn't finished worse than fourth since January, a string of six PGA Tour Champions events that includes a victory at the Mississippi Gulf Resort Classic. But he hasn't found a way to close in a senior major, and in the last two majors he let the 54-hole lead slip from his grasp. The amiable Spaniard, 52, is among the leaders this week in driving distance and is tops in greens in regulation through 54 holes. He needs to reprise that formula for 18 more holes.
Americans: Scioto Country Club has been a haven for American success. In the four previous majors it hosted, a U.S.-born player has won: Bob Jones in the 1926 U.S. Open, Chandler Harper in the 1950 PGA Championship, Bruce Fleisher in the 1968 U.S. Amateur and Dale Douglass in the 1986 U.S. Senior Open. America also beat Great Britain handily here in the third Ryder Cup in 1931. Gene Sauers, one behind Jimenez, has the best chance to keep the streak going. Loren Roberts and Billy Mayfair are next, four behind. Is the spell about to be broken?
Tom Watson: How many more times will we see the most decorated player still competing in senior golf? Watson, an eight-time major champion who is a three-time runner-up in this championship, goes out late today, but he starts on the 10th tee at 12:09 p.m. EDT. The 67-year-old legend submitted a promising second-round 70, but his hopes for a U.S. Senior Open title were dashed by a third-round 82. Before the leaders turn for home, it will be worth watching the old master take a few more cuts with that classic swing of his.
Early rabbit: Rains hit venerable Scioto hard Saturday after the third round was completed, softening her up for the final assault. As of 6 a.m. Sunday, .82 inches of rain had been recorded. A player who gets out ahead of the leaders and posts a score might be able to steal the Francis D. Ouimet Trophy. The lowest round of the week so far is 66. Could 2010 champion Bernhard Langer, who has improved his score each day, including 69 on Saturday when only four players broke par, make a move? He is only five strokes behind. And six back sits defending champion Jeff Maggert, who has yet to break par this week. Gentlemen, don your rally caps.
Billy Mayfair: Speaking of rallies, the youngest player in the field – he turned 50 just eight days ago – birdied two of his last four holes Saturday to salvage a 75, and he will begin the final round tied for third, four shots behind. That's not an insurmountable deficit. Should the 1987 U.S. Amateur champion shake off that bad round and surge past Jimenez and Sauers, he would become the youngest winner of the U.S. Senior Open, passing Douglass, who set the record at Scioto in 1986 at the age of 50 years, 3 months, 24 days.
Dave Shedloski is an Ohio-based freelance writer who frequently contributes to USGA websites.