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Fred Couples watches his tee shot as players compete during a practice day at the U.S. Senior Open at the Broadmoor East Course on Wednesday, June 27, 2018 in Colorado Springs, Colorado. (Photo by Dougal Brownlie, The Gazette).

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Fred Couples tried the Shrine thing. Informed by Broadmoor director of golf Russ Miller that you want the flagstick between your golf ball and Cheyenne Mountain, he tested the theory.

On the deceptive greens of the East Course, uphill putts are good. Downhill putts? Not so much.

“I don’t know what anyone else is saying, nor do I really care, but I think they’re brutal,” Couples said Wednesday of The Broadmoor greens.

Catch Couples while you can. One of the most popular players in golf — PGA Tour, Champions Tour or otherwise — said Wednesday he won’t play in more than four or five tournaments per year. This week’s U.S. Senior Open is his fourth event of 2018. His sore back isn’t getting any better, and Couples said he can see the end of the tunnel for his competitive golf career.

“Oh, I see it. I’m 58. The last four years I’ve probably played 25 tournaments. And I don’t practice. I don’t chip and putt. I don’t bang drivers. I just show up every now and then I play if I feel like I can,” said Couples, who tees off the No. 10 tee at 8:03 a.m. Thursday.

“If this is the last tournament I ever play, trust me, I won’t have a problem with that,” he said.

This is a $4 million tournament at The Broadmoor. The winner pockets $720,000, and Couples suggested Davis Love III as a prime candidate. The champ will be long and accurate off the tee and perform brilliantly on the slick, slanted greens — the usual recipe for a USGA champion.

Couples’ second trip around the East Course — 27 holes of practice golf Wednesday — left him believing that altitude isn’t his cup of tea. He sounded like a millionaire who needed a hug, complaining over and over. Couples lamented his dry skin (“My hands are getting raw”), cracking voice (“This air is brutal”) and only a loose grasp of yardage with his long irons.

“I didn’t really like The International much,” Couples said.

A resident of Newport Beach, Calif., Couples doesn’t play often. He plays so rarely, in fact, that “I didn’t know where my clubs were” before he played a recent round at Augusta National.

“I really like the (East) course. It’s a fun course to play,” Couples said. “It’s just hard to remember. All the holes look the same with me.”

Water plans

If you received a “Fire Weather Warning” on your smartphone, you’re not alone.

So did the USGA.

To combat temperatures that will extend into the 90s and threaten to dry out the fairways and greens, the USGA requested greens superintendent Michael Sartori and his crew increase its watering of the East Course on Wednesday. The extra water isn’t expected to impact the speed of the greens, but the dry weather will make it easier for players to escape the 3-inch rough that’s a mix of ryegrass-bluegrass-poa annua. The rough won’t be as dense. The grounds crew hand-watered the course Tuesday night. The crew also didn’t cut the rough for the first time in weeks.

“We feel like if we can get to the weekend there’s going to be a respite from the warmer temperatures,” said Ben Kimball, the director of the U.S. Senior Open for the USGA.

The USGA also revised its water policy in anticipation of the escalating temperatures.

• Clear, empty water bottles up to 34 ounces and up to two 24-ounce sealed water bottles will be permitted through the admission gates.

• Three hydration stations have been placed around the course where plastic bottles can be refilled free of charge.

• The price of bottled water at the eight concession stands have been reduced to $2 per bottle for the remainder of the tournament.

The USGA said it probably will water the course between the morning and afternoon rounds Thursday — and possibly between groups, if the heat and wind arrive as expected.

“Hot and dry. Record heat for Thursday and slightly cooler for Friday,” KKTV meteorologist Brian Bledsoe said. “Highs will be in the 90s both days. Wind will blow 15-30 mph in the afternoons.”

Another withdrawal

Seven-time PGA Tour winner Peter Jacobsen formally withdrew from the U.S. Senior Open for personal reasons Wednesday. Jacobsen won the 2004 Senior Open and will be replaced by Tim Hume, a pro from Crystal River, Fla.

Langer’s memories

Does Bernhard Langer share favorable memories of The Broadmoor?


Langer on Wednesday recalled the iconic moment at the 2008 U.S. Senior Open when a black bear wandered onto his group on the 13th fairway. Standing near Dottie Pepper and Tom Watson at the time, Langer called it “a very unusual experience.” He has a framed photo at home. Will we see a sequel? Wednesday, a black bear made a cameo near the No. 17 tee box.

“I can’t outrun the bear. I’m just going to stand my ground,” Langer said. “If he wants a piece of me he’s going to get it anyway.”

As for the speed of the East Course greens, Langer compared them to those at Augusta.

“These are probably another level still,” he said.

Chip shots: A common theme among the players at the U.S. Senior Open: the trout streams just over the hill serve as a tease. “When I go home, I go (fly) fishing,” Davis Love III said. Several players plan to extend their Colorado trips to get on the water. ... Carbondale’s Doug Rohrbaugh, who qualified at The Broadmoor, is in the first group off the No. 1 tee at 7 a.m. Thursday. ... The East Course is set up as a 7,265-yard par-70. Even so, “It’s probably impossible to say the exact yardage” due to the changing tee boxes,” said Sartori. ... The top 60 scores, plus ties, will make the cut to play Saturday and Sunday.

(Contact Gazette sports columnist Paul Klee at paul.klee@gazette.com or on Twitter at @bypaulklee.)

Sports columnist

Denver sports columnist for The Gazette

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