Nebraska native has a rough trip home -
Published Sunday, July 14, 2013 at 10:58 pm / Updated at 11:02 pm
Nebraska native has a rough trip home

If Mark Calcavecchia seemed a little grumpy during the U.S. Senior Open, there’s a reason.

It’s because he was grumpy.

He said he’s sorry for acting that way — like when he purposely broke his driver — during what amounted to a weeklong homecoming for the man who lived to age 13 in Laurel, Neb.

“I just tried too hard,’’ said Calcavecchia, who never broke par with rounds of 72-73-74-70 to finish 9 over. “I finally lightened up on myself today.

“The first day, I got going in the wrong direction and was pretty grumpy the whole week. I apologize to the fans for that. I certainly wanted to do better. The fans were great the whole time.’’

Calcavecchia did a solo interview in the locker room Sunday after declining to talk during the tournament’s first three days.

Despite his outward demeanor during play, Calcavecchia said he enjoyed seeing old acquaintances from the Laurel and Wayne area and catching up with friends.

As he left the 18th hole Sunday, he handed his glove to one little girl and his ball to another. Then a marshal told him about a young girl from Laurel standing nearby, so he stopped to sign two autographs for her.

That was in contrast to the 12th hole Thursday when he hit his tee shot in the rough, carried his driver part way down the fairway, snapped it over his knee and heaved it into the foliage.

“I’ve been driving it bad for a few weeks and that continued,’’ Calcavecchia said, “although today I got a new driver shipped in and drove it better, especially the back nine. I finally figured something out.’’

He birdied the last three par 4s he played (15, 17 and 18) to finish at even-par 70.

“But it wasn’t just the driver,’’ Calcavecchia said. “I did everything bad this week. My bunker game sucked. I actually made a decent amount of 15- to 20-foot putts, but I missed at least 15 five-footers or less.

“In a U.S. Open, when you are driving it bad and putting it bad, that’s a bad combination.’’

One other USGA combination Calcavecchia didn’t like was the speed of the greens and the fairways at Omaha Country Club.

“I told a USGA guy they had it backward,’’ he said. “The fairways were too fast because of the slope, and the greens were too slow.

“They should have left some more grass in the fairways. There were three or four fairways you couldn’t keep the ball in them. But all in all, it was a good event.’’

A tiring one, too, with the hill-climbing that OCC requires.

“It would be a tough walk for the regular tour,’’ Calcavecchia said. “For a bunch of 50- and 60-year-olds — and fat guys like me — it’s pretty tough. Hal Sutton WD’d after nine holes because he couldn’t do it with his hip.’’

Nebraskans who want to keep an eye on Calcavecchia’s golf this week will have that chance.

The 1989 winner of the British Open was scheduled to leave Omaha on Sunday night for Scotland to play in this week’s championship at Muirfield.

Contact the writer: Lee Barfknecht    |   402-444-1024    |  

Lee Barfknecht has won nine national writing awards from four separate organizations, and is a 12-time winner of the Nebraska sportswriter of the year award. He covers Big Ten football and basketball, Nebraska basketball and other college financial issues for The World-Herald.

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