OMAHA, Neb. —
The 53-year-old Couples’ scaled-back schedule begins to ramp up now. After the U.S. Senior Open, he plays the British Open at Muirfield and Senior British Open at Royal Birkdale in consecutive weeks — “which might be a little much,” he said.
For a man with a notoriously bad back, the schedule is taxing, in no small part because of the challenge the Omaha Country Club presents. Even in the best of circumstances, golfers will find themselves with a good number of side-hill and downhill lies. And then there’s that gnarly, 4-inch rough.
“If I drive it in the rough and don’t have a great lie, I’m not going to do too much out of it,” Couples said. “I’ll probably play it safe.”
Roger Chapman will try to become the first defending champion to repeat since Allen Doyle in 2006. Chapman, who also won the Senior PGA Championship last year, has not been able to recapture his 2012 magic. He has one top-10 finish in 13 events.
Notable first-time entrants are Colin Montgomerie, who turned 50 last month and tied for ninth in the Senior Players Championship; Rocco Mediate, who lost a playoff to Tiger Woods in the classic 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines; and Duffy Waldorf, who has six top-10s in 11 Champions Tour events this year.
Perry, the Charles Schwab Cup points leader, is looking for his second win of the year in a senior major. He shot three straight rounds in the 60s to win the Senior Players Championship by 2 shots over Couples and Waldorf in Pittsburgh.
“Anything that has ‘major’ attached to it was always my one goal,” Perry said. “Obviously, our majors out here probably are not looked upon like they are on the PGA Tour, but yet they’re still a major. It still will be attached to your name.”
Playing on the regular tour last week in West Virginia, Perry was 3 shots off the lead after two rounds of the Greenbrier Classic before ballooning to 73 on Saturday and finishing tied for 41st.