ShareThis Page

Gorman: Legends, not leader, top draws at Senior Players

Kevin Gorman
| Saturday, June 29, 2013, 10:48 p.m.

As one of golf's greats walked onto the No. 6 green, Gene Kleinosky leaned over and whispered a history lesson to 15-year-old junior golfer Greg Heider.

“There's Tom Watson,” he said, “one of the legends.”

This was why they drove two hours Saturday from Johnstown to Fox Chapel Golf Course, to see legends at the Constellation Senior Players Championship.

They stood at the seventh tee, watching in awe as Watson, Tom Kite and Nick Price played in succession. That's three members of the World Golf Hall of Fame, with a combined 76 PGA Tour victories and a dozen majors.

“I remember watching these guys in all their major championships,” Kleinosky said. “I've seen them in their heyday.”

For Kleinosky, greenskeeper at Berkley Hills Golf Course, seeing Watson led to reminiscing about some of his greatest golf memories.

“I can still remember watching on TV, him hitting the shot to beat Jack Nicklaus (in the 1982 U.S. Open) at Pebble Beach,” Kleinosky said. “He's the biggest name in this tournament.”

That's what is both majestic and melancholy about the senior circuit. We get to watch the legends, though they are in their twilight and no longer its scoring leaders.

Make no mistake, however: The legends, not the leaders, are the draw to this event.

“They are the Champions Tour,” said Kenny Perry, who shot back-to-back 63s for second place, two strokes behind Fred Couples. “They carry this tour for us. They're icons. They're Hall of Famers. They're what people want to come see. That's who I want to come see.”

Perry added Hale Irwin and Ben Crenshaw to the group of “guys I looked up to when I was learning how to play, who I was trying to aspire to be like.”

That's why Kleinosky told the young Heider to watch their mannerisms, everything from how they grip their clubs and set up their shots to how they conduct themselves on the course. The golfers were all business.

“Right now, you can't tell if Nick Price is 7-over or 18-under,” Kleinosky said, laughing when he saw the standard showing Price at 7-over. “There's no kicking bags or throwing clubs.”

Watson, 63, joked that golfers his age always have a few injuries they could complain about. Instead, he gripes about his memory. He still remembers the holes, even when he plays a round he wishes he could forget.

“To win out here,” he said, “you have to play really good golf.”

Dennis Kelly was impressed after watching Watson birdie the par-4, 450-yard No. 9 to finish 1-over 71.

“Watson is still playing at a terrifically high level,” said Kelly, 50, of O'Hara.

At 2-over 212, Watson is no longer in contention. He's 17 strokes behind Couples, who now draws bigger galleries.

But not more fervent fans.

“I'd rather watch these guys than Couples and the leaders,” Kleinosky said. “Let's face facts: They've got nowhere near the wins.”

Where Watson has 39 victories, including eight majors, on the PGA Tour, Couples has 15 victories and one major. Watson complimented Couples, calling the courses pitch-and-putt for him.

“He's in a different world, Freddy,” Watson said.

A world where this Senior Players might belong to Couples, but Watson is still the Champions Tour star.

Kevin Gorman is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at or via Twitter @KGorman_Trib.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.