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Allen Doyle has been a golf professional for only 10 years. Before that he was an outstanding amateur golfer of some reknown and twice a Walker Cupper. Doyle turned pro in the late '90's and earned his PGA Tour playing privileges by finishing top ten on the (then) Nike Tour (where he'd won three times). The next year he earned his card by winning the PGA Tour's 'Q' School at ripe old age of 49 -and by beating all those 'wanna be' flat bellied 'kids' as well as several regular tour veterans. Then he became eligible (by age 50) and won the Senior Tour's 'Q' School to gain privileges to what is now called the 'Champions Tour'. This victory in the 2005 U.S. Senior Open is Doyle's third Champions Tour major championship title since joining the Champions Tour 7 years ago:
From back in the days of the late '1970's televised golf has used unemployed caddies the week of golf tournaments to get the yardage for the on air and walking announcers who bring each week's tournament into the living rooms of today's golf fans. Reason is the caddies know the players and caddies and know how to move about out there without getting in anyone's way.
This past week it worked out in my schedule to be in Dayton, Ohio to work for Lou Serafin of NBC at this year's U.S. Senior Open golf championship. It's a pretty simple job really. You are usually assigned a group to follow at the beginning of each days employ and your job is to go out on each hole following the groups tee shots and get the yardage to the front of the green and then add in the days pin sheet to compute the final tally to the hole for each player in the group. If and when they need your info they call on you via your portable headset and you give them the brief and relevant info. It's a light 'grunts' job which gets you inside the ropes to a 'birds eye' view of what's going on and a few sheckles for 'down the road' so to speak.
After my first two days spotting it was my observation that the golf course was not playing very long. The top players on the Champions tour all hit it pretty far anyway and there were an awful lot of short irons into greens with the par fives being reached in two shots as well by most of them. Dry and firm fairways also played a part for what looked to be a fairly low scoring affair and atypical for a U.S. Open format. Stadler shot 64 on Thursday, Watson shot 65 on Friday, Roberts a 66 -67 for the first two rounds, and Raymond Floyd (a super senior) took advantage of the short conditions and played wonderfully all week. I imagine as well that the 'Push Hook', straight hitting driving style of Alan Doyle as coined by Johnny Miller got it's share of 'roll out' all week long as well.
On Saturday I had the pairing of Tom Watson and Loren Roberts -both of whom were tied for the lead along with Craig Stadler after 36 holes at NCR. Stadler played just in front of my group in Saturday's third round and since my job was to be ahead a half hole to get yardages I saw a lot of Craigs round. Stadler birdied the last three holes Saturday to finish tied for the 54 hole lead with Loren Roberts. However, I could see that something was amiss in 'Stads' game. Normally a fader (left to right) of the golf ball Craig was occasionally pulling his drives and irons or pushing the shot to the right. He was tied for the lead because he was making enough birdies to counter his ball striking mistakes and bogies.
On Sunday my assignment was to do the yardage for the final round pairing of Craig Stadler and Loren Roberts and for Roger Maltbie on the ground. On the final day Stadler was like a 'Yo-Yo' again. He bogeyed the first hole and birdied #'s 3, 5, and 6, but buried a tee shot in the right hand bunker at the 4th and 9th holes resulting in a bogey and double bogey respectively that let everyone back in contention on the back nine on Sunday. Thereafter, Craig missed the first four fairways on the back nine and fell out of contention with a bogey from the rough on the 14th hole. On the 15th tee he asked his caddy Jeff Dolph to "Give me a new ball that doesn't have bogey written on it". Jeff pulled a new ball out and handed it to Craig but it was already too late.
I was with Loren Roberts group both on Saturday and Sunday for his final 36 holes. His game lacked sharpness particularly with the irons. Overall his putting was decent and he was making enough birdies to stay in the hunt (including a 70 yard hole out for an eagle on #10 on Saturday). His chances pretty much went by the way side after dumping a 95 yard sand wedge second shot on Sunday into the front bunker on the 11th hole and then taking two shots to get out resulting in an unforgiveable double bogey. (No doubt watching the antics of Stadler on Sunday didn't help his psyche much either.)
Playing in front of me from the front of the 14th green D.A. Weibring (who had been in it quietly all week long) was making a par to stay -11 with a one shot lead over Doyle who had posted a remarkable 63 and was in the clubhouse at -10 for the tournament. D.A. looked to be hitting a lot of fairways and greens and had the advantage of playing from behind with very little hype about it. However, his tee shot on 17 just crept into the left rough (it's usually worse when you just get it in the deep stuff nearest the first cut), and could only extricate his golf ball into more rough fronting the bunker at the 17th green. A resulting bogey there on 17 then required that Weibring par the par four finishing hole to get himself into a playoff with Doyle.
Then I heard in my headset that D.A. was in the
right rough off the 18th tee. I meandered up to his ball there and found
that he had a clean lie sitting atop four inch matted down rough. I
thought the worst thing that could happen would be the heel of the club getting
into the four inch grass that was laying down flat under his golf ball.
The pin was cut back right on 18 on Sunday. D.A. had 163 to the hole I
heard through my headset. I was 15 yards from him and could see after much
discussion with his caddy (Russ Craver -who's been with D.A. since he started on
the Champions Tour a couple years ago and a veteran of many 'caddy wins'
including a major with Larry Nelson.)
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