Bear plays through at Senior Open

August 1, 2008 5:12:53 PM PDT
Jack Nicklaus, the "Golden Bear," isn't at the U.S. Senior Open, so a black bear will have to do. The inquisitive beast ambled out of the wilderness and onto the East Course at the Broadmoor on Friday, crossing the 13th fairway between ESPN on-course color analyst Dottie Pepper and golfer Bernard Langer and his caddie, Terry Holt, before trying to mingle with spectators outside the ropes.

Nobody was harmed, and neither was the bear, who eventually returned home on his own.

"Nicklaus isn't here, so I guess that's a substitute," cracked clubhouse leader Fred Funk.

Although tournament officials were prepared to tranquilize the animal and stop play were it to become aggressive or spooked, after several minutes the curious 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 the 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.

Aside from the bear, several deer and foxes were spotted during the second round Friday.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.) AP-NY-08-01-08 1950EDT