If NBC Sports needs to find someone to occupy Gary Koch’s chair this weekend, it’s fine by him.
“The plan is hopefully to play well enough to where I don’t have to do much TV work. We’ll see how that goes,” said Koch, who’s in the Senior Open field for the first time since 2003 after advancing through sectional qualifying.
“I’ve done this a couple times before, a U.S. Open back in 2001 at Southern Hills and one of the Senior Players Championship at Baltimore Country Club. It’s not anything brand new to me. Pacing myself is probably the key. Don’t try to become a great player here in a short time. Just try to enjoy the experience.”
Koch is slated to be a tower analyst for NBC Sports’ third- and fourth-round coverage from 2 to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. He is not involved in ESPN2’s telecasts from 3 to 7 p.m. Thursday and Friday.
In his sectional, Koch made it through a 4-for-2 playoff after shooting a 70. He won six PGA Tour events and played in 17 U.S. Opens, with his best finish a tie for sixth in 1982.
He began his sportscasting career in 1990 by working for ESPN on Champions Tour events before moving to NBC Sports.
Robin Byrd needed ace to qualify
Robin Byrd has had no shortage of holes-in-one — 17 in his career. The most recent one, though — on the 17th hole, no less — put him into the Senior Open field.
At the Berlin, Wis., sectional qualifier, the Australian who resides in Satellite Beach, Fla., qualified for his first USGA championship. He struck a 6-iron from 191 yards.
Colorado amateur was Royals draft pick
Die-hard Kansas City Royals fans might not even remember that Senior Open qualifier Matt Hall, from Grand Junction, Colo., was selected by K.C. in the 27th round of the 1982 Major League Baseball draft.
He spent six seasons in the minors with the Royals and Seattle Mariners’ organizations. An outfielder, Hall rose to the Mariners’ Class AAA affiliate at Calgary.
Concessions can meet your sandwich craving
A $3 peanut butter-and-jelly sandwich is among the food offerings at the tournament’s concession stands.
Hamburgers and chicken sandwiches are $7.50 apiece, a 16-ounce beer $6.50 (a 22-ounce beer in a commemorative cup is $9) and bottled water is $3.
Tuesday dedicated to honoring military
The U.S. Senior Open’s Military Day will begin at 7 a.m. Tuesday on the first tee, with the presentation of colors by the Creighton ROTC. Jimmy Weber of the U.S. Air Force will perform the national anthem, then Hale Irwin and Rocco Mediate are scheduled as the first group off the tee.
Throughout the day, members of various military branches will announce the players teeing off on Holes 1 and 10.
All military personnel, active and retired (with valid IDs), and their families will be admitted free Tuesday. Red, white and blue ribbons will be distributed at the main admission gate to distinguish military in the crowd.
Dennis Walters to bring trick shots, trivial pooch
The Dennis Walters Golf Show will take place at 2 p.m. Tuesday on the practice range.
Paralyzed from the waist down, Walters performs various trick shots while sitting in his wheelchair. His dog, Bucky, also plays a prominent role in the show as he barks out the correct answers to Walters’ golf trivia questions.
Monty scheduled to meet the media
Colin Montgomerie is expected to be one of the players brought in to the media center Tuesday for a press conference.
Others on Tuesday’s slate are Peter Horrobin, the first Jamaican to play in the U.S. Senior Open, at noon; Mediate at 12:30 p.m.; and defending champion Roger Chapman at noon.
On Tuesday, after the USGA holds an 11 a.m. Q&A, Tom Watson is scheduled for interviews at 3 p.m. and Bernhard Langer at 4 p.m. Fred Couples and Kenny Perry also are expected to take the mike that day.
Tickets to be sold at OCC main entrance
Senior Open tickets will be sold at the tournament’s main entrance each of the practice-round and championship days.
Daily ticket prices are $25 for the practice rounds and $50 for the championship rounds. A four-day ticket to the championship rounds is $150.
Ticket buyers should park at the free public lot at the North Omaha Airport at 72nd Street and Nebraska Highway 36. The shuttle will take them to the main entrance, where ticket sales are at the admissions/will call window.