Rain leaves Inverness defenseless at Sr. Open

Olin Browne watches his shot from the 13th fairway during the second round of the U.S. Senior Open at the Inverness Club.

TOLEDO, Ohio – Two alien invasion movies are opening today – “Cowboys & Aliens” and “Attack the Block.”

Make that three, because the scores at the U.S. Senior Open are positively alien.

Any golf tournament with the name U.S. Open attached to it (men, women or senior) is supposed to be a torture test. So why are all these players smiling?

Because persistent rainfall has turned bogeys into birdies. Because the Inverness Club greens have been transformed from speedy super highways to painfully slow country roads.

This has allowed players to putt aggressively rather than defensively.

“Slowest greens by far I’ve ever seen at a USGA event,” said Mark Calcavecchia.

At any U.S. Open, players are supposed to mourn, not dance. It’s supposed to be a funeral, not a party.

And what have we here? Sponge cake greens, iron shots that sit down immediately, birdies galore, almost 40 players under par after 36 holes. It may be called the U.S. Senior Open, but it feels more like a regular Champions Tour event.

Too bad, because this is a re-enactment of what happened at the U.S. Open in June. Rain turned Congressional Country Club into a dart board, and Rory McIlroy finished at 16-under-par.

“It looks like this is our year for rain,” said USGA president Jim Hyler. “We can’t even think about getting the greens where we want them.”

If a Stimpmeter speed of 11.5 was the goal, these greens are maybe 9.5.

Anyway, this alien movie is starring Olin Browne. Despite making a double bogey, he’s 9-under-par after two rounds and threatening to turn this tournament into a McIlroy.

Browne, known as one of captain Paul Azinger’s assistants at the 2008 Ryder Cup, birdied the last two holes to move ahead of his pursuers.

Browne could hardly contain his glee. “I know this is a chop buster of a golf course,” he said. “It’s just a really, really cool layout. I love the way the holes are framed. I love how the greens are set up. You know, you hit the middle of a green and you probably won’t have more than 20 feet on any putt. I really like this old style. I’m a big fan of (designer) Donald Ross, and I think this golf course is great.”

Great enough to remind him of the U.S. Open?

“I mean, it does,” he said. “I think in recent years there’s been a philosophical evolution at the USGA with their course setup, and I think it continues here. It’s not one foot off the back cut and rough up to your earlobes and the whole thing. I think the courses are set up to let players play, and I think we as players really appreciate that.”

Except the waterlogged greens have lost their zip.

“The greens are really soft,” Browne said. “The course, I thought, held up great. Even though the fairways were softer, they didn’t hold a lot of water.”

Perfect conditions for an alien invasion.

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