Sean Knapp didn’t have to look at a pairings sheet Friday night to find out with whom he’d be playing in Saturday’s third round of the U.S. Senior Open.
It was elementary, you might say.
"It was funny because it was about 7:30 last night, and I saw Mr. Watson's name somewhere around me on the leaderboard. I said to my wife, ‘Might be about time to go see who we have for tomorrow,’" Knapp said. "And before I could get to the computer, I heard all this beeping noise; my phone blew up. And suddenly I had like 82 text messages. I just put it down, and I said, ‘I don't even have to look. I know who I'm playing with.’ It was a real treat."
Knapp, 50, of Oakmont, Pa., drew a tee time with Hall of Famer Tom Watson, and even though his score was disappointing, the day was one of his best in golf.
Just one of two amateurs to make the cut, Knapp struggled to a 6-over-par 76 at Indianwood Golf & Country Club and fell to eight over for the championship, tied for 61st place. He trailed Doug Hanzel by four shots in the race for low-amateur honors after Hanzel, 55, of Savannah, Ga., came in with a 71 and 214 total.
"That's the one nice element of shooting a bad score today, that I haven't blown myself out for that," said Knapp, who also qualified for this week’s U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship in Utah, but chose to compete in the U.S. Senior Open instead.
"Well, you know, anytime you get a chance to play with Tom Watson, it's a special day, special environment here, having made the cut at the Open," said Knapp, who eagled his first hole from 20 feet, but didn’t have another hole under par thereafter.
Watson, the 1982 U.S. Open champion, also eagled the par-5 first from a greenside bunker and was three under through seven holes. A poor finish left him with a 70 and 212 total.
"We're all doing the same thing. Doesn't matter whether it's an amateur or pro. We're all trying to score our best," Watson, 62, said. "Sean got off to a really good start, and he eagled the first hole, and he just barely missed birdie putts on the first – basically, the first five holes. Didn't play very well after that, but he got off to a really good start."
For Knapp, it was a good start and a good finish, with his score being inconsequential to the equation. The experience, he said, was right near the top. And this is a man who has shared a teeing ground with Tiger Woods and Arnold Palmer.
"I've played with Tiger [Woods] in the U.S. Am head to head. I've played Luke Donald head to head. Both of those guys weren't pros then. They weren't Tiger, and they weren't Luke, although you could see that they certainly had that potential," Knapp said. "I played with Mr. Palmer, but his career was nearing an end at that point. He wasn't playing competitively on the Tour.
"So when you combine the fact that you're playing with one of the greatest players ever and in a major championship venue, you know, it's right there. It's at the top."
Peter Jacobsen has played well this week at Indianwood Golf & Country Club. But he’s fighting a feeling of inadequacy after playing alongside Fred Couples, who shot a third-round 65 Saturday afternoon.
"I’ve seen some pretty good golf this week," the 2004 U.S. Senior Open. "I’m just wishing some of it would rub off."
Jacobsen earlier in the championship was in the same group with Tom Kite, who set the championship record with a 7-under 28 on the way to a 65 and the first-round lead.
With three birdies in his final 10 holes, Jacobsen shot a third-round 68 and was tied for 15th at 208.
Playing Through The Weekend
As Mike Goodes learned again at the U.S. Senior Open, it pays to stay until the cut is official.
On Friday, Goodes, 54, of Reidsville, N.C., went out in the morning grouping’s second pairing and shot a second-round 73 to sit at 4-over-par 144 for the championship. Upon finishing, Goodes loaded up his courtesy car and headed for Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport.
"Didn't even think I was going to make the cut," he said.
Goodes parked the car by the terminal’s curb and passed 80 minutes by talking to championship volunteers.
"I finally got down to like 54th [on the leaderboard] and there wasn't enough people to be able to bust me out so I headed back. My last flight [to Greensboro, N.C.] was at 7:30, so if I wasn't there, I wasn't going to make it, and I wasn't going anywhere until I knew that I missed the cut.
"I would never leave. I wanted to make the cut too bad and come out here and play this weekend, because you never know."
On Saturday, Goodes posted a 4-under 66 to reach even-par 210.
"It would be hard for me to think I can win the tournament at even par now, but you can have a good tournament," Goodes said. "You never know, you could sneak in the top 10 or 15 or something. It's good to be here, and this is a fabulous place. I'd like to play this course as many times as they'll let me."
Zink The Marker
David Zink had been on notice all week. On Saturday, Zink finally got the call.
Twenty minutes before the U.S. Senior Open’s third round’s 17th grouping, Zink, Indianwood Golf & Country Club’s head golf professional, was called on to serve as a marker for Kiyoshi Murota. Russ Cochran had withdrawn due to a back injury earlier in the morning.
"I was going about my business, carrying boxes back and forth from the merchandise tent to the pro shop," Zink said. "Then my assistant calls me and said, ‘I think they want you to play.’"
Zink only had time to hit a dozen putts before stepping to the first tee. Given his lack of preparation, Zink shot a respectable 7-over-par 77 that included a birdie on the par-4 18th hole. Murota, of Japan, shot a 1-over 71.
Afterward, Zink signed a handful of autographs.
Zink, 58, is a fixture at Indianwood. His family had a membership from 1969 to 1974, and Zink was the 1973 club champion at age 19. In 1981, he was hired as the pro. He also shares the unofficial course record of 62.
Zink said he was prepared to be a marker since Monday, but because of his other club and course obligations he had not practiced.
"I do know the golf course better than anybody," he said. "I've played it probably more times than probably anybody living, but I haven't swung a golf club in three weeks, either. It took a little while. I played better on the back nine. I think I hit most of the greens on the back nine, all but three. Played OK."
Zink’s last competitive round was on June 26 when he shot 75 at the sectional qualifier at Radrick Farms Golf Course about an hour from here in Ann Arbor, Mich.
While players either headed to the practice range or straight for their cars following their third round, Zink was going back to work.
"Now I get to go see how many boxes … hopefully they're all out, everything's out and not much merchandise left," he said.