Duffy Waldorf had only been able to practice the first nine holes of the course at the Fox Chapel Golf Club, the weather cutting his pro-am practice round Thursday in half.
So for the back nine -- Waldorf's first nine holes because he started on No. 10 -- in the first round of the Constellation Senior Players Championship Thursday, Waldorf was more focused on trying to find the hole than trying to find a leader board.
If he could have spotted a leader board, he would have seen a familiar name -- his own.
Waldorf has started three of his past four tournaments as the first-round leader, and in the other tournament, he was the leader on the second day.
But the problem hasn't been the opening rounds -- it has been the closing ones, because by the time the tournaments come to a close, Waldorf has been finding himself on the outside looking in. His best finish was sixth at the Allianz Championship in February. His worst? A 44th place finish at the Toshiba Classic in March.
Waldorf finished the first round Thursday tied for second after shooting a 66, good for 4 under.
"Well, I'm obviously playing better," he said. "Earlier in the year I was definitely struggling at the start. I think I've just been a little more comfortable ... I just talked myself into being comfortable even though I hadn't played the hole before."
With the heavy rain the night before and the light showers Thursday, the rough was a bad place to be. Balls didn't come out easily, so many players talked about focusing on the fairway a lot more than usual.
Waldorf felt the same way, but still found himself in the rough on several holes, particularly the short ones.
His biggest out of the day was on hole No. 1, his 10th of the day, where his tee shot landed in the rough. Using a pitching wedge, Waldorf shot the ball about 5 feet past the hole from almost 115 yards away, giving himself another birdie.
Of Waldorf's five birdies, three of them came from the rough.
"I was fortunate that I was in the fairway, it seemed a lot, on the long holes and then in the rough on the shorter holes, which didn't really hurt me," Waldorf said. "The holes that are longer holes, I was in the fairway and that really helped my round."
After another hot start, eyes will be on how Waldorf finishes this time around.
For many golfers at Fox Chapel, familiarity with the course and staying out of the rough are the keys to finishing strong.
For Waldorf to continue what he started, he might want to do the exact opposite.
Everett Cook: firstname.lastname@example.org and Twitter @everettcook. First Published June 28, 2013 4:00 AM