McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

State House

July 8, 2014

Oak Tree gang dominates talk about U.S. Senior Open

EDMOND, Okla. — The heralded Oak Tree National gang was the buzz around Monday’s first day of practice rounds for the 2014 U.S. Senior Open.

Former Oklahoma State golfers Bob Tway and Scott Verplank were paired with Tom Pernice Jr. Monday — while fellow Oak Tree National golfer and ex-Cowboy Willie Wood did not participate in the Monday practice round.

For Verplank, the winner of the U.S. Amateur at Oak Tree National in 1984 before turning professional two years later, the sight of fans, tents and grandstands was different from his usual time on his home course.

“It’s totally different. I was gone last week and I can’t believe how much it has changed in a week – with the extra ropes and tents,” Verplank said. “Its great. The golf course is fantastic and it’s the first time I’ve walked nine holes out here with slacks on in I don’t know how long.”

It has been eight years since a major tour event has been held at the Edmond course that opened in 1976 – then known as Oak Tree Golf Club – though it did host the the 2012 Trans-Mississippi Championship. The 2006 event held at Oak Tree National was the Senior PGA Championship, which was won by Jay Haas who is in the field for this week’s tournament.

Oak Tree was also home to the 1988 PGA Championship, which was won by Jeff Sluman who will be another former champion participating at Oak Tree.

“We’re all proud of this place, proud of the golf course, enjoy living here and playing here. So its really a good deal for all of us,” Verplank said. “Hopefully one or all of us will play really good and have a chance to win, but even if that doesn’t happen we’re proud of showing off how good this place is.”

With the daunting four-day event ahead with high temperatures expanding throughout the week, Verplank said he doesn’t plan to get a full 18-hole practice round in. Instead, he’s likely to repeat what he did Monday and just play nine holes.

“Probably just play nine (Tuesday). I’ve played this golf course enough — though not with all the people and the tents, but nothing is going to change from what I know,” Verplank said.

Tway elected to play the entire 18 Monday and said he will likely play nine holes the next two days because he believes the course has changed a bit from its normal layout.

“Even though we play it all the time, we’re out here learning different things the last couple of weeks because the lines have changed, the fairways being faster and with different tee placements,” Tway said. “It’s always a learning process.”

As for the third member of their practice grouping, Pernice — a regular practice partner of Tway on Tour — decided to fit in with the group and the surroundings by wearing orange slacks with a white and orange shirt.

“I think he went Oklahoma State today,” Tway said.

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