SI Vault
Note Book
Gary Van Sickle
July 23, 2001
Senior Players ChampionshipGetting to Be a Grind
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July 23, 2001

Note Book

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Here's how the cost of a weekly ticket to the New Zealand Open compares with the prices at the majors and other select tournaments.

Weekly Ticket

U.S. Open


New Zealand Open




Canadian Open


British Open


AT&T Pebble Beach


Players Championship




Senior Players Championship
Getting to Be a Grind

How was your week? Probably better than the Senior tour's. For a tour struggling through a season of indifference, having Allen Doyle beat Doug Tewell in a playoff in the year's final major didn't light up the sky. Don't get the wrong idea, though. Good golf was played at the Ford Senior Players Championship at the TPC of Michigan in Dearborn, and the finish was dramatic. Doyle rolled in a 35-footer for birdie on the 72nd green to force the playoff, which he won on the first hole after Tewell hooked his tee shot into a hazard.

That was good stuff, but casual observers wondered, Where are the stars? Here's what happened to them: Jack Nicklaus limped off during the second round with a partial tear of his right hamstring; Lee Trevino came in 36th, 19 shots out of the playoff, and said he's giving up Senior majors; Tom Watson made three double bogeys in the third round and didn't mount a charge on Sunday; and Hale Irwin, the winningest Senior ever with 31 victories, wound up third.

That left matters to Doyle, a three-year tour veteran who is in danger of outgrowing his role as an underdog. Although he had done everything this year but win, including losing a playoff to John Schroeder at the NFL Golf Classic, Doyle, a member of the Norwich (Vt.) University Hall of Fame as a hockey player and the owner of a driving range in LaGrange, Ga., has arguably been the most consistent Senior in 2001; he leads the tour in percentage of top 10 finishes (81%, 17 of 21).

Rest assured, winning a second major won't inflate Doyle's ego. Paired with Irwin and Watson during the first two rounds, Doyle felt as if he were the odd man out. "I know my niche," he says. "To think that I'm going to carry the same weight as Tom Watson is ridiculous. When I play with Irwin or Watson or [Tom] Kite, they aren't very concerned about me, period. If those guys are playing their best, my best isn't quite up to theirs. But when I'm off, I'm probably less off than they are."

Nicklaus, 61, is off—completely off. He's skipping this week's British Open to go sightseeing in Florence and Milan with his wife, Barbara, and developer Lyle Anderson and his wife, Missy. "We've never taken a vacation during which I didn't work or play golf, so I promised we would do that," says Nicklaus.

The vacation was well-timed. Nicklaus suffered the tear while practicing last Wednesday, then aggravated the injury in Friday's second round and withdrew after nine holes. He had shot a 77 in the opening round. Nicklaus still plans to play in next week's Senior British Open at Royal County Down Golf Club in Newcastle, Northern Ireland.

Trevino, also 61, officially ran up the white flag in Dearborn, declaring that the Senior Players would be his final major. That wasn't a surprise since he had skipped this year's Tradition and Senior Open. "If I thought for a minute I could win, I'd play," he said, "but I won't put in the time. Let someone else have a shot."

That left the stage to Doyle. Because of his unorthodox swing, he may be the tour's most underrated player. He may also be the most appreciative. "It still blows my mind that I come to work at the golf course," Doyle says. "It's hard not to consider myself one of the luckiest guys around."

Changing Majors
Seniors Should Follow the LPGA

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