It's not the heat at the U.S. Senior Open; it's the humility.
The beautiful Broadmoor resort and its East Course were no vacation for the elder statesmen of golf Thursday.
Alas, 147 players didn’t break par in the first round of four.
“I feel like I’m at Shinnecock again. I reliving that (adventure) from two weeks ago,’’ Kenny Perry, the defending Senior champion, said after whetting a nifty, considering, 1-over 71.
“Two-footers are not gimmies,” he said. Nobody is saying out there: “That’s good. Pick it up.’’
Oh, but Stan “John Phillip’’ Sousa was feeling the stars-and-stripes when he fashioned a soft 7-iron into the mug on the par 3 No. 4 for a hole-in-one, in front of his son/looper.
Sousa must be near the lead. Not quite.
The ace did prevent the Hawaiian from shooting 90. But, then, Sousa had a legitimate excuse. He underwent hip replacement six months ago, and he walked all 18 holes. Hello, John Daly.
John Smoltz is a Hall of Fame pitcher, but probably won’t be a Hall of Fame golfer. Smoltz threw an 85 after starting the front side with six bogeys and a triple.
This is not some garden-variety Dick’s Sporting Goods Open.
Welcome the majors back to Colorado Springs and The Broadmoor. Welcome, old pros, back to Big Boy Pants golf.
“The course just absolutely ate me alive,’’ Sousa sighed.
Perry said the 2017 Senior Open layout at Salem (Mass.) Country Club — 26 feet above sea level — couldn’t compare. “Not even close. You actually had some holes last year you felt like you could breathe a little bit. ... Here, the greens, they’ve got you on the edge.’’
It’s difficult to breathe anywhere in the rarified air beneath the Rockies.
If that’s not severity enough, The Broadmoor experienced record temperatures that reached 97, and the wind occasionally gusted to 25 mph and switched directions nearly every hole, and the rough is gnarly and six inches deep and demanding a sickle, and the breakneck-fast greens sloped more than a clawfoot bathtub.
Speaking of claw, at least the players weren’t threatened by a black bear — as they were the last time the Senior Open was played at the course of lore.
They call the wind “Pariah.’’
“It was crazy,’’ said Kevin Sutherland. The wind “would blow incredibly hard one direction, and all of a sudden it was like you were in a dome, no wind at all. And then it would blow really, really hard from a different direction.’’
Doug Rohrbaugh described his escapade as “a Jekyll and Hyde round.’’ He was mostly Mr. Hyde while going 8-over in 11 holes.
The 10th and 17th were particularly cruel and usual punishment. The pair are a 1,062 combined yards, not bad for two par 5s. However, they are par 4s. No. 10 played at 4.64 for the round, and the field averaged 4.59 on the penultimate hole — the longest par 4, at 559 yards, in the history of the Senior Open or the U.S. Open.
Actually, all but one of the par 4s played above par.
The second is only 331 yards. Maybe it should be a par 3.
Not everybody writhed through the opening day. But only eight players did beat par.
Doesn’t it remind you, like Perry, of another recent, controversial major golf tournament?
Only The Broadmoor doesn’t have clown faces, windmills and famous players swiping at moving balls? The scenic Broadmoor route, as Rocco Mediate (68) suggested, is reminiscent of “good old-school stuff’’ courses such as Winged Foot. “So it’s a perfect U.S. Open setup, in my opinion. I love it.’’
Jerry Kelly adored it.
The youngster (51) from Wisconsin was the only participant who actually deciphered the altitude conversion calculus and The Broadmoor on Thursday. The former high school hockey player does not swing like Happy Gilmore at The Broadmoor. Kelly fired a quality 66 that was bogey free until the final hole when he three-putted. “My shots were coming out right I wanted them to,’’ even though he had played nine holes Tuesday and Wednesday here for the first time ever.
Kelly possesses a slight two-stroke advantage over four players, including Mediate (who lost in a playoff for the U.S. Open 10 years ago — vs. a player named Woods.)
On the first day of the sun- and wind- and rough-burned Senior Open, the majority of the players were burned and humbled. The Broadmoor was a bear.