Former Boston Red Sox manager Terry Francona named honorary chair at U.S. Senior Open

Former Red Sox manager Terry Francona will serve as honorary chair of the U.S. Senior Open.
Former Red Sox manager Terry Francona will serve as honorary chair of the U.S. Senior Open.

Former Red Sox manager Terry Francona obviously enjoys baseball, but he’s also a big fan of golf, and he will serve as the honorary chair of the U.S. Senior Open at Newport CC in Newport, Rhode Island, Thursday through next Sunday.

Francona wanted to play football in high school in Pennsylvania, but his father, Tito, a longtime Major League Baseball outfielder, didn’t want him to get hurt. So his father bought him some golf clubs, and Terry joined his high school golf team. He has been playing golf ever since.

Francona, 65, said he has a 9.8 handicap.

More: This reporter had plenty of memories of Terry Francona's time with the Boston Red Sox

“I’m an avid golfer,” he said. “The problem I’m having is every year I need one more club, and I’m running out of clubs. But I love playing. It’s part of why I wanted to get healthy. So in retirement, I could play, and I’m enjoying it.”

Francona managed the Red Sox to World Series championships in 2004 and 2007 before moving on to Cleveland, where he managed the team to the 2016 American League championship and was named AL Manager of the Year three times. He retired at the end of last season.

Francona lives in Tucson, Arizona, and he golfs about three times a week.

The clubhouse at Newport Country Club, which will host the U.S. Senior Open from July 27-30.
The clubhouse at Newport Country Club, which will host the U.S. Senior Open from July 27-30.

When he was a younger manager, he brought his golf clubs on the road, but when he got older, he stopped playing during the season.

“I would always let our pitchers play on the road,” he said, “because I figured if they were getting up at 6, they were going to bed early. So it was a good thing.”

Francona managed Michael Jordan at Double-A Birmingham in 1994 when Jordan took a break from the NBA to try baseball. Francona said he went from playing public courses to exclusive private country clubs with MJ.

He remembers driving with Jordan to play at TPC Sawgrass and asking him when their tee time was.

“He’s like, ‘whatever time we get there,’ ” Francona recalled.

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Francona said he’s often asked if he’ll manage again, but he insists that he won’t.

Francona returned to Fenway Park this year for the 20th anniversary of the 2004 World Series championship team, and the late Tim and Stacey Wakefield were honored. He said he doesn’t follow the Sox closely, but he knew they had suffered a lot of injuries. He said it was too early in the season to count them out of the playoff picture.

“I’m a big Alex Cora fan,” he said. “I’m a huge Craig Breslow fan."

Francona plans to root in the U.S. Senior Open for Rhode Island native Billy Andrade, who became a good friend after they played together in the Diamond Resorts Invitational PGA Tour Champions event in Orlando a few years ago. When Andrade played in the Cologuard Classic in Tucson in March, he and his caddie Ziggy Zyons stayed at Francona’s house. Brett Quigley, another PGA Tour Champions golfer from R.I,. stopped by one night for a cookout.

“They’re just so easy to root for,” he said, “because they seem to embrace not just the game of golf, but the people.”

Andrade, 60, will play in his ninth U.S. Senior Open. He’s won four times on the PGA Tour and three times on the PGA Tour Champions.

“It’s old style and it all depends on the weather,” Andrade said of Newport CC. “If you get some dicey weather coming off the Atlantic Ocean, the golf course will play very difficult. It’s going to be a par 70, and it’s normally a 72 for the members. Two fives will play as two fours. It will be very challenging.”

Nearly half of the 156 players at Newport CC entered the field through the 33 qualifying sites, including Fran Quinn of Holden.

Newport CC hosted the first U.S. Amateur and the first U.S. Open, both in 1895. Two of the most recognizable names in golf won the last two USGA events at Newport CC. Tiger Woods captured the 1995 U.S. Amateur, and Annika Sorenstam won the 2006 U.S. Women’s Open in an 18-hole playoff.

Newport CC has irrigation for the tees and greens, but not the fairways or rough. So if there isn’t much rain, the course could play fast and firm.

The U.S. Senior Open will play Newport CC’s back nine first and the front nine second because the front nine plays along the water. The course will play as a par 70 at just over 7,000 yards.

Ideas always welcome

You can suggest story ideas for this golf column by reaching me at the email listed below. Comments are also welcomed.

—Contact Bill Doyle at bcdoyle15@charter.net. Follow him on X, formerly known as Twitter @BillDoyle15.

This article originally appeared on Telegram & Gazette: Former Red Sox manager Francona named honorary chair at U.S. Senior Open

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