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Major golf returns to Oklahoma

It's been several years but Oklahoma will once again return to the national golf spotlight when the U.S. Senior Open is held at Oak Tree National Golf Club next month.

The Senior Open will start on Thursday, July 10 and run until Sunday, July 13. The field will include 156 players over the age of 50, both professionals and amateurs who made it through qualifying.

Among the featured players in the field are a host of Oklahomans, many of them who live in the Edmond area and play Oak Tree on a regular basis. That list includes Bob Tway, Scott Verplank, Gil Morgan and Willie Wood.

Other big names in the field are: Vijay Singh, Rocco Mediate, the always-entertaining Fred Funk, Mark O'Meara, John Cook, Fred Couples, Nick Price, Colin Montgomerie, Bernhard Langer, and Mark Calcavecchia.

The Senior Open will represent the second USGA event hosted by the Pete Dye course, the first being the U.S. Amateur in 1984. 

However, there have been other major tournaments at the course including the 2012 Trans-Mississippi Championship, the 2006 Sr. PGA Championship, the 2000 PGA Club Pro Championship, the 1988 PGA Championship, 1980 PGA Cup Matches, and the 1978-1979 PGA Round of Champions.

The schedule actually begins with practice rounds on Monday, July 7, Tuesday July 8, and Wednesday July 9. Gates open at 7 a.m. daily.

Tuesday is more than just a practice round, it will also be Military Day with all military personnel and their families admitted free. 

There will be a special presentation of colors by a military color guard and playing of the National Anthem on the first tee at 7 a.m. to officially open the festivities. 

Also Tuesday, at 2 p.m., there will be an exhibition on the practice range featuring Tom Lehman and Corey Pavin. The Folds of Honor Foundation members Major Dan Rooney and Major Ed Pulido will be involved in that event to bring exposure to that great organization.

Wednesday is Junior Day with kids admitted free.

When the first round begins Thursday there will be players teeing off from both No. 1 and No. 10 tees starting at 7:15 a.m.

Practice round tickets are good for any of the first three days and cost $20. Fans who want to upgrade to Trophy Club practice round tickets pay $40. That gets them access to the air-conditioned Trophy Club Pavilion.

When the tournament opens grounds tickets are $45 daily, or $65 for Trophy Club tickets. Weekly tickets are also available for $125 or $225 for Trophy Club tickets. The tickets are good for any day of your choice. 

And the good news, parking is free and kids 17-and-under are admitted free with a ticketed adult.

To make it easier for the many military personel in our area to attend, the USGA is offering all active and retired military and veterans with valid ID cards or a DD214 form, to purchase tickets at 50 percent off the list price. 

All tickets can be bought online at this address: http://www.2014ussenioropen.com/ticket-information.php

The USGA says that interest in the Senior Open continues to grow every year. Recently that group announced that 2,715 entries from 49 states and the District of Columbia were accepted for the Senior Open and that includes 12 past champions among the 80 players who are fully exempt. Players from 30 foreign countries also entered.

"Players aspire to win the U.S. Senior Open Championship, and that is evidenced by the number of entries," said Daniel B. Burton, USGA vice president and Championship Committee chairman. "We are excited to bring the U.S. Senior Open to both Oklahoma and Oak Tree National for the first time and look forward to awarding the Francis D. Ouimet Memorial Trophy to the champion in July."

While anyone who joins the USGA can enter their championships, don't think it's all that easy to make the field. In the case of the Senior Open, players have to have a handicap not exceeding 3.4 and they must be 50 years of age.

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