COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) — The Broadmoor’s East Course was quite a bear Friday.
Difficult pin placements and faster, drier greens flustered the field and only five golfers managed to shoot below par, including Fred Funk, whose 1-under 69 gave him the lead at the halfway point of the U.S. Senior Open.
Funk’s two-day score of 6-under 134 is two shots ahead of Eduardo Romero (69) and four ahead of Mark McNulty (70), Tom Kite (71) and John Cook (72).
Stealing the show, however, was a black bear that ambled out of the mountains in the morning and crossed the 13th fairway before checking out spectators outside the ropes.
Nobody was harmed, and neither was the bear.
“(Jack) Nicklaus isn’t here, so I guess that’s a substitute,” cracked Funk.
Although tournament officials were prepared to tranquilize the animal and stop play were it to become aggressive or spooked, after several minutes the bear crawled through a drainage pipe on the ninth hole that leads to the West Course, then went through another drainage pipe and into the wilderness, leaving unnerved galleries and golfers behind.
USGA spokesman Pete Kowalski said wildlife experts were called in and would be on the course throughout the rest of the tournament in case the bear or its chums decide to return for another look around.
The course, carved into the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, serves as host to all kinds of critters, including bobcats, coyotes, deer, mountain lions, red foxes, snakes and turkeys.
But a bear?
That was a new one even for these grizzled veterans, many of whom played with Nicklaus, the “Golden Bear” who menaced his share of golfers over the years.
Funk said he heard tournament officials talking about possibly having to halt play “because it would be pretty scary if it got a little panicky and some spectator or some of the golfers were too close – that wouldn’t have been an issue if a caddie had gotten too close.”
Aside from the bear, a few deer and red-tailed foxes were spotted Friday.
“You don’t get that every week,” Cook said.