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July 17, 2012

U.S. Senior Open a hit with fans at Indianwood Golf and Country Club

By Christian Davis
C & G Sports Writer

» click to enlarge «
U.S. Senior Open a hit with fans at Indianwood Golf and Country Club
A golfer makes his way up the No. 10 fairway at Indianwood. The links-style course offered plenty of views for fans to take in the action.

LAKE ORION — Watching Loren Roberts tee off during the U.S. Senior Open July 12-15 at Indianwood Golf and Country Club in Lake Orion, Steve Dubiel summed up the thoughts of many in the gallery that day.

“Absolutely no effort whatsoever,” the Mount Clemens native and current Traverse City resident said to the fans around him. “Only in my dreams.”

Dick Devine, of Grosse Pointe Farms, also marveled at the swings he saw on the links-style course.

“These guys are amazing. They swing so effortless, and it goes twice as far as us duffers,” he said. “They swing their driver like I do for my 20-yard pitch shot.”

Though at least one fan took some solace when a pro on a rare occasion showed that they do make mistakes.

“I’m enjoying seeing them struggle in the traps like I do,” Kathryn Walby, of Farmington Hills, said with a laugh.

The tournament offered a chance for fans to see some of their old favorites and find some new ones with such big names as Tom Kite, Tom Lehman, Fred Funk, Corey Pavin, Fred Couples and Bernhard Langer all making a charge at some point during the week toward the top of the leaderboard.

In the end, it was England’s Roger Chapman who hoisted the Francis D. Ouimet Memorial Senior Open Championship Trophy. It was Chapman’s second major victory of the season after winning the Senior PGA title in Benton Harbor, Mich., in May.

Chapman finished 10-under, two shots better than Funk, Lehman, Pavin and Langer.

Fan friendly
The day before the tournament officially teed off, players used their practice round to familiarize themselves with the course and interact with fans.

“Start getting ready to clap, you might be seeing a hole-in-one,” Ted Schulz shouted to the gallery as his tee ball flew to the green, eventually stopping several feet short of the hole.

Dubiel witnessed Langer sink a shot from a 100 yards out and received the German’s autograph on his hat moments later.

“He’s a real nice guy. I told him after he chipped that shot in that he could have the check now (for winning the tournament),” Dubiel recalled. “He said, ‘No, I’ll wait until Sunday.’”

Elaine Kuth and her husband, Michael, made the trip to Indianwood from southern Ohio to volunteer at the event all week.

“We’re both retired now and just decided to do it. We’ve had a blast,” she said. “They seem like a nice bunch of fellas. Fuzzy Zoeller was laughing and carrying on, of course.

“Some of them said, ‘Thanks for volunteering,’ which was nice.”

The courtesy continued for the Kuths off the course, as well.

The couple remarked that they were enjoying dinner earlier in the week when they recognized Schulz and Kenny Perry and struck up a conversation after realizing they all lived in the same area.

“They’re good ol’ Kentucky boys,” Kuth said smiling.

Special occasion
The event also became a chance for families and friends to spend some time together on the course.

Dubiel was down from Traverse City visiting his friend, Bill Prahl, of Rochester Hills. They’ve been friends for over 55 years.

“It’s special,” Prahl said. “This is kind of a payback, because he’s had hockey tickets and Pistons tickets (that he shared). So I told him, ‘You drive down, and the rest of the trip is on me.’”

Walby had been looking forward to this championship since she bought the tickets at Christmas.

She was there with her dad, George Smith, of Lake Orion.

“Well, it’s kind of special. I’m recovering from bladder cancer … so we’re enjoying the day together, and the family will get together this afternoon,” Smith said, adding that he was planning on attending the following day with his other daughter, Jackie Hershey, and that his wife was also recovering from an illness.

“It’s more treasured today than it would have been last year,” Walby added. “This is a wonderful opportunity.”

For more photos of the tournament and a look at how the tournament showed its appreciation for veterans and current military personnel, visit our website at www.candgnews.com. See next week’s paper for more on Indianwood’s response to hosting the big tourney and remarks from the USGA.

You can reach C & G Sports Writer Christian Davis at cdavis@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1062. Twitter Follow Christian on Twitter.