Sports

Bellevue's Tom Brandes doesn't dwell on rough opening day at U.S. Senior Open

Tom Brandes plays his tee shot on 14 during the First Round at the 2010 U.S. Senior Open Championship at Sahalee Country Club in Sammamish, Wash. on Thursday, July 29. - Steve Gibbons/USGA
Tom Brandes plays his tee shot on 14 during the First Round at the 2010 U.S. Senior Open Championship at Sahalee Country Club in Sammamish, Wash. on Thursday, July 29.
— image credit: Steve Gibbons/USGA

Tom Brandes took a minute to reflect Thursday afternoon following his first round at the U.S. Senior Open at Sahalee Country Club.

Standing outside the large Sahalee clubhouse, Brandes had just finished a 12-over-par 82 round, one of 41 golfers in the field of 156 who couldn't crack 80.

The amateur from Bellevue talked about his expectations in the event, his second straight Senior Open appearance.

"Trying to break 80, getting a 75, 77, something like that, that's pretty realistic to me," said Brandes, 53. "I didn't get it done today."

Brandes, who didn't make the cut in last year's event at Crooked Stick Golf Club in Carmel, Ind., wasn't alone in his struggles. Just two golfers with afternoon tee times - Bernhard Langer, a two-time Master's champion, and Mark Calcavecchia - shot under par-70. Brandes tied off at 12:40 p.m. and was faced with afternoon greens that looked more like concrete with the way they rolled balls off.

Brandes barely missed putts for par and birdie on nine different occasions. He also lofted a an approach on the 17th hole that looked to be right on the pin but kept running, eventually falling off the backside of the green into a bunker.

"That's about as good of a shot as I can hit," Brandes said. "The greens were so hard that you couldn't stop the ball. That combined with roughs that you can't get out of is how you shoot 80 or whatever I shot."

The opening nine holes proved to be tough for Brandes. After bogeying the par-4 1st hole, Brandes set himself up for a nice approach shot on the 508-yard par-5 2nd hole. A clean approach would set him up nicely for a birdie. Instead his shot found the pond in front of the green, just inches away from landing on grass.

"I hit a shot that I liked before it hit the water," he said. "I guess I got a little bit greedy. But I as going right at it. It was not a mishit shot."

After the first nine holes, Brandes sat at 7-over. After bogeying the 10th hole, he settled in and picked up pars on the next five holes before a double bogey on 16 and a bogey on 18 gave him his final tally of 12-over.

"I can do better, no doubt about it," he said.

But Brandes didn't dwell on the negatives of the round.

"This kind of event is just crazy, especially for a local amateur," he said. "It gives you goosebumps. Us amateurs don't get crowds and TV's. Last year I had the hair standing up on my neck."

He also mentioned the thrill of playing with stars such as Fred Funk, Fuzzy Zoeller, Tom Watson and Seattle's own Fred Couples. Brandes played Thursday's round with a visor sporing Couples' autograph under the bill.

"For us, the qualifiers, the work is really done to get here," Brandes said. "We're just happy to be here."

Bruce Vaughan shot a 4-under-par 66 to take the lead Thursday. Play Friday morning was suspended due to fog and is just now getting underway.

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