For the majority of his two rounds at the U.S. Senior Open, Fresno native Tony Smith was keeping pace with some of the nation's best 50-and-older golfers.
And then Smith found water and couldn't recover.
Smith, a former minor-league golfer who now coaches the Memorial High girls and boys teams while also working as a funeral director, suffered a double bogey on a troublesome 13th hole. And that proved critical, as Smith would miss the cut and fail to advance to play the third and fourth rounds.
Smith shot a 6-over 77 on Friday during the second round at Oak Tree National in Edmond, Okla., falling to 9-over for the tournament and dropping below the top-60-and-ties cut line. He was on the bubble much of the way, finishing the first round in a large group tied for 56th and remaining in the last bunch just above the cut line right up to the final two holes.
"Nothing went right and then I stiffed up and hit the water on 13," Smith said via telephone. "I was right there with these guys. But physically, I just never felt right and it showed."
Smith said he was dealing with a tight hip and back from the get-go. It showed. Smith double-bogeyed to start the second round, then followed with a bogey on hole No. 2.
After four straight pars, Smith regained a stroke with a birdie on No. 7. And he followed with five straight pars. The double bogey on the 197-yard, par-3 13th, though, halted that rally.
Still, he was in position to make the cut just by parring Nos. 17 and 18. Easier said than done during a round played on a challenging course in mid-90s heat and high humidity.
Smith bogeyed the 17th after his first putt on the par-3 hole, up a slope, failed to make it all the way to the top of the hill.
That bogey knocked Smith a stroke beyond the cut line of 7 over, meaning he needed birdie on the par-4, 437-yard 18th. But his third shot from about 20 feet missed just left and Smith wound up settling for another bogey.
"I started off horrific," he said. "I had body issues. I couldn't stay down on my shots. But you know what, I think I showed I belong out here. I've got a lot of game. I just know it.
"I'll need to get with my trainer and correct some of these body issues. And I've got to figure out how to coordinate being a funeral director with playing golf. But my inner circle and I believe I belong out here and need to start playing more golf again. I've missed this. I had the time of my life out here."