Eduardo Romero leads the U.S. Senior Open with a 66.
HAVEN, Wis. (AP) — Eduardo Romero and Angel Cabrera come from the same country, but their bond goes well beyond that.
Cabrera was a 10-year-old caddie when Romero’s father, a club pro in Argentina, proclaimed that the boy had the potential to play professionally. Romero later reached into his own pockets to sponsor Cabrera on the European Tour.
Now, both men are rising to the top of their respective levels of golf.
Less than a month after Cabrera became the first Argentine to win the U.S. Open, Romero shot a six-under-par 66 and held the first-round lead when play was suspended because of weather at the U.S. Senior Open at Whistling Straits on Thursday.
“After the win by Angel Cabrera, he said to me, ‘If you go there, try to win the tournament, because two U.S. Opens in one month is fantastic,”’ Romero said. “And I said, ‘Angel, I know it’s hard, but I’ll try my best.”’
So, did he plan on getting in touch with his pal to share the good news?
“Yeah, in five minutes!” said Romero, the Champions Tour rookie of the year last year who won the Jeld-Wen Tradition, which is considered a senior major.
Tied for fourth in history
Romero’s low score tied him for the fourth-best opening round in U.S. Senior Open history. And as if that weren’t enough of an indication that this is shaping up to be a banner summer for Argentine golf, fellow countryman Vicente Fernandez shot a 69 and is tied for second with a pair of club professionals, Jon Fiedler of Camarillo, Calif. and Ron Vlosich of Lakewood, Colo.
Gil Morgan, Loren Roberts, Bruce Vaughan and Jim Woodward, were out on the course at 3-under when play was halted because of threatening weather at 5:05 p.m. CDT. Amid thunderstorms and high winds, play was called for the day at 6:15 p.m.
The 78 players who were unable to finish the first round will resume play at 7 a.m. today.
“Golf in Argentina is the most growing sport in the last 10, 15 years,” Fernandez said. “So we’re doing very well.”
Cabrera’s victory at Oakmont was only the second in a major championship by an Argentine, and the first since Roberto De Vicenzo won the 1967 British Open. De Vicenzo, a hero to Romero and other Argentine golfers, also won the 1980 U.S. Senior Open.
Could all this propel golf’s popularity past soccer in his native country?
“I don’t think so yet, but probably in a couple more years,” said Romero, who is nicknamed “El Gato” (the cat).
He was joking, of course.
“I wish,” he said.
Romero has early lead
Romero teed off from the 10th hole on Thursday morning, using accurate iron shots to set up back-to-back birdie putts at 12 and 13. He later rolled in an eagle putt from 50 feet on the par-5 16th hole to go four under par and grab the early lead.
Romero had three more birdies on his second nine, with his only bogey of the round coming on the seventh hole.
Romero is the third player to shoot 6-under in the first round of a U.S. Senior Open. Three players have shot 7-under in the first round of a senior open, most recently Craig Stadler in 2005.
Considering the fact that he went into Thursday hoping to shoot one or two under, Romero is optimistic about his chances of winning, but there is a lot of golf left.
“Three more rounds to go, you don’t know what happens — especially in this golf course, especially in the U.S. Senior Open, because there are a lot of good players behind me,” Romero said. “I have to be very careful, you know?”