Australian Masters champion Peter Senior was his normal polite self, even though the dry-witted one-liners that are his trademark were missing at The Australian GC today.
And, no one could blame him but praise was indeed deserved for even having the courtesy to talk of the golfing nightmare he’d just endured.
His massive high from winning at Huntingdale last Sunday to complete a Triple Crown of local tour victories in his 50s was replaced his lowest ebb in years after shooting a nine-over par 80 in the opening round of the Emirates Open.
“It was a terrible round. I felt a bit embarrassed really. I played a lot better than 80. I’m a proud man (in the most humble of fashions everyone would agree), but I’m a little ashamed. It was not a great score especially just after winning,” Senior said.
Others might have gone home and kicked the cat, or sought solace in strong drink, but he simply philosophically took it on the chin.
There was nothing in his demeanor on the practice putting green or when he jauntily strode to the 10th tee to begin his open championship that a catastrophe was nigh.
He chatted with playing partners, his old mate Brett Rumford from the European Tour days and American Bryson DeChambeau who is the reigning US amateur and NCAA champion.
He drew a club out of the DeChambeau’s bag and waggled it just many players do with other player’s club and gave it the verbal thumbs up.
It was just on their 6.55am hit-off. He’d risen around 4.30 to ready himself and, even though he freely admitted earlier in the week that The Australian layout was far too long for his game these days, one suspects he wasn’t entirely without a degree of confidence.
At 6.55am, the 1986 Open Champion Rodger Davis, who is with us purely for yesterday’s ceremonial tee shot by 17 past champions and watched by two others – Peter Thomson and Frank Phillips who are in their 80s – wasn’t even awake.
Davis rose later and after a leisurely morning came out for lunch and a few red wines at the official Golf Australia luncheon where the non-playing former champs met up again.
Why mention Davis?
Well, he won the Australian Senior PGA championship just a couple of weeks ago at Richmond GC in Sydney’s outer northwest beating Senior and Mike Harwood in a playoff.
Then last Tuesday week, Davis shot 71 around The Australian off the blue tees in a Lexus pro-am that was the best score in the afternoon winds.
“Maybe I should have played the open,” he told me earlier in the week. He certainly had no regrets yesterday.
When Senior and Co. hit off, it was 28 degrees and the wind was certainly no mere zephyr, as the Scots would say when it’s blowing a gale. It was 38 degrees when they finished.
Hydration was the order of the day.
We won’t give you a shot by shot of Senior’s round. Suffice to say he found more than his fair share of bunkers around the demanding Jack Nicklaus layout.
Maybe he could have avoided a three-putt at the short 15th after coming out of a greenside trap with no green to work with from a downhill lie for, on his second putt from half a metre, he didn’t even mark the ball and study the line.
His resultant putt died on the hole and lipped out – a double bogey 5 went on the card.
Senior’s longtime coach Gary Edwin, as always, was following Senior and it was made easy for him as another pupils for 20 years and then some more, Rod Pampling, was in the group ahead.
Edwin, who once had charge of the Prime Ministerial swing of Bob Hawke as well, paused along the way to chat about Senior.
“Remarkable isn’t a strong enough expression for Pete,” Edwin said. “He’s loved the game for years, plays every day, practices everyday. A lot of people think he is a natural golfer, but he works really hard at it now he’s 56.
“He’s not out there to simply to make up the numbers. That’s not Pete, he wants to win.”
Yesterday Senior was among the also-rans, and it was hurting.
“My short game was horrendous today. I made three double bogeys from the edge of the green. You just can’t do that around a course like this. I dropped too many shots, just wasted shots.
“I don’t remember when I last had a double bogey let alone three of them that I had today,” Senior said.
Rumford had a highly respectable two under par 69, and loves the course. Last year he finished third with Pampling second behind world No 1 Jordan Spieth who is back defending who had the magnificent final round 63.DeChambeau shot 70 and Senior said of his game: “Bryson is a great player and a great bloke, but he didn’t make a putt out there today.”