By Frank Luna

Got an early start Monday morning walking the beautiful grounds at the Del Paso Country Club.

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The last time I was here was for the Women’s US Open in 1982. After a complete redesign, I must say the course has much more character and grace.

The pristine fairways and fast rolling greens, coupled with the thick, sticky rough, remind all this is a USGA Championship.

After watching the barren, links-like Chambers Bay course for the US  Open, Del Paso Country Club is smooth drink of water, lush, green and well shaded.

It was a sparse turnout of both players and spectators for the early practice rounds this morning.

With the smaller crowds, I saw some of the players engaging in light conversation with the people in the galleries.

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At one point, on the 165 yard par 3, Esteban Toledo challenged anyone in the gallery to hit a ball closer to the hole than he.

One brave man, I’d say in his early sixties, stepped up and borrowed a hybrid club and after a few warm up swings, proceeded to slap a ball just short of the green and a beautiful roll out to within about 30 feet of the hole.

Toledo stepped up and backed off a couple of times, claiming the challenger’s shot put a lot of pressure on him, to the delight of the growing crowd watching the spectacle.

Of course, Toledo then proceeded to shape a perfect shot to flag with enthusiastic approval from the surrounding gallery.

Just another morning at the US Senior Open in Sacramento.

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