One of the U.S. Senior Open favorites and the tournament's defending champion struggled together in Thursday's first round.
Fred Couples made just one birdie and shot a 1-over 71. Playing partner Roger Chapman, the 2012 champion, also had a single birdie and finished at 4-over 74.
“I didn't get much going,” said Couples, the Champions Tour scoring leader this season. “The first few holes, I had it close for birdie and didn't make any.
“I never had the pace of the greens. I left a lot of putts short. It was a hard day.”
Still, Couples didn't leave Omaha Country Club discouraged.
“If I play like I did today and don't feel like I did that well and shoot 1 over, I'll be fine,” he said. “I do need to have a nice stretch of holes, though. You can't make one birdie out there and expect to do well.”
Chapman's post-round interview session was just a pit stop before heading to the range with his driver.
|COURSE GUIDE: U.S. SENIOR OPEN|
|See hole illustrations, insight from course pros, photos and video from every hole and more in our Senior Open course guide.|
“I drove the ball terribly today,” he said. “I somehow managed to hit 15 greens, so 74 was probably the best I could do out there. It was a tough old day.”
For the afternoon groupings, the greens developed large brown splotches as the heat affected the different strains of grass.
“They're beginning to go,” Chapman said. “They're going to have to put a bit more water on them because they are drying up a bit. They look fast, but they actually putted slowly.”
With a morning tee time Friday, Chapman is looking for truer rolling greens and a chance to shoot 3 or 4 under to stay in contention.
“But with the way I'm driving the ball at the moment,” he said, “it's going to be a struggle.”
Couples and Chapman, despite not doing much special on the course, appreciated the atmosphere from the large and attentive galleries.
“It was fabulous,” Chapman said. “Freddie and I were commenting going down the first fairway that it was magnificent. All the crowds came out.
“(Couples) turned around and said, 'This is a proper tournament now.' I don't know how many people were on the course today, but the support and the enthusiasm were fantastic.”