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Golf: Jerry Vidovic hopes to bring ‘A’ game to U.S. Senior Open

Jerry Vidovic | File photo

Jerry Vidovic | File photo

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U.S. SENIOR OPEN

Site: Omaha, Neb.

Schedule: Thursday through Sunday

Course: Omaha Country Club (6,711 yards, par 70).

Purse: TBA ($2.75 million in 2012). Winner’s share: TBA ($500,000 in 2012).

Television: ESPN2 (Thursday and Friday, 3 to 7 p.m.) and NBC (Saturday and Sunday, 2 to 5 p.m.)

Last year: Roger Chapman won at Indianwood in Lake Orion, Mich., to join Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player and Hale Irwin as the only players to win the tournament and Senior PGA in the same season. Chapman finished at 10-under for a two-stroke victory.

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Updated: August 12, 2013 11:14AM



Jerry Vidovic has played on hundreds of golf courses all over the country.

He said, however, he hasn’t played many, if any, that resemble Omaha Country Club in Nebraska, site of this week’s U.S. Senior Open.

“The up and downs are just so severe,” said Vidovic, the golf pro at The Meadows in Blue Island. “You finish a hole, look at the next tee and it’s like playing another hole to get to it. It’s like walking up a mountain to get to the next hole. And it’s like that nearly every hole.”

The physicality required is enough to test the stamina of a young golfer in the prime of his career. However, the 156 participants, many in their 50s and 60s, of this week’s U.S. Senior Open — Vidovic being one — will need to conserve their energy just getting from hole to hole.

And if the peaks and valleys of the course, not to mention the 6-inch rough, undulating fairways and multiple blind greens don’t present enough obstacles, the weather forecast calls for 90-degrees-plus temperatures with high humidity for the four-day event.

Even seasoned veterans such as Fred Couples, Tom Watson, Tom Kite, Hale Irwin and Bernard Langer, all members of this Senior Open field, will need to bring their “A” game.

“It’s going to be a hell of a test,” said Vidovic, 56, who played practice rounds Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. “It’s a surprising venue to put a bunch of seniors on. The distance (6,800 yards) isn’t anything crazy, but it doesn’t play like 6,800 yards. It plays longer than that. But if you hit the fairways and have reasonable shots at the green, it’s doable. It’s not doable from the rough. You have to stay in the fairway.”

Vidovic is scheduled to tee off at 7 a.m. Thursday in a group that includes John Pate and Bill Loeffler.

Vidovic was a first alternate from the Hinsdale Sectional qualifying site, posting a round of 69 on June 24 at Ruth Lake Country Club. When Olin Browne, the 2011 Senior Open champ, had to pull out of the Senior Open because of a back injury, Vidovic stepped in as first alternate.

This is Vidovic’s second U.S. Senior Open. He qualified in 2008 for the event at The Broadmoor Country Club in Colorado Springs, but failed to make the cut after shooting 73-80 (153).

But Vidovic, a 1974 graduate of Eisenhower who won the IHSA individual state championship in 1973 and the U.S. Public Links title in 1977 — the only Illinois resident to accomplish the latter — learned a few things from that first Senior Open experience.

“I’ve got to keep my mental stress down,” said Vidovic, who won the Illinois Senior Open in 2009 and ’12. “When I shot 73 the first day at The Broadmoor, I remember thinking I had to score even better the next day to make the cut. As it turns out, I could have shot 75 and made the cut. I had 37 putts the second day, which is unheard of. It was just one of those days where I didn’t make any putts.

“It’s mentally tough to play a national open, even though I’ve played one before. These guys do this week after week. I think I’ll be more relaxed this time.”

Despite the rigors of the course and the pressure of a major tournament, Vidovic is confident he can hold his own.

“I know on a certain level I can play here,” he said. “But since you don’t do this for a living, there are other guys who do this every week who will bring their ‘A’ game easier than I can. That’s not to say it can’t happen for me. I enjoy the nervousness of it all. I just want to get a good roll going. If I play good golf, I can make that (roll) happen.”

While the goal is to make the two-day cut of 60 players and play four rounds, having sons Troy and Jordan, along with approximately 40 friends and family members who are making the trip to Omaha, will make the experience a special one.

Additionally, Jordan will caddie for his father.

“That’s one of the biggest things for me, to be able to do this with my sons,” Vidovic said. “For all of us to be a part of a big thing together like this. These are the things you don’t forget.”



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