The 2005 Senior PGA Championship
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Jay Sigel
Jay Sigel soldiered on despite being diagnosed this week with benign positional vertigo. (Photo: Getty Images)

Notebook: Sigel Stricken with Sudden Case of Vertigo

Champions Tour veteran Jay Sigel awoke from a nap Monday afternoon and immediately knew something was seriously wrong. "The room was spinning and the walls were coming in," said Sigel, who was diagnosed by a doctor with benign positional vertigo.

By Marino Parascenzo and PGA.com Staff

LIGONIER, Pa. As the saying goes, a funny thing happened on the way to . . . But in this case, it wasn't funny at all for Jay Sigel when he was on his way to the Senior PGA Championship.

On Monday afternoon, the 61-year-old Sigel awoke from a nap hoping to get in a little practice for the 66th Senior PGA Championship at Laurel Valley. But in an instant he knew something was seriously wrong.

"The room was spinning and the walls were coming in," Sigel said. Which explains why an 11-year veteran of the Champions Tour, with eight victories and $8.7 million in winnings, would blow up to possibly the worst golf of his career, 79-79 -- 158.

"The doctor called it 'benign positional vertigo,'" Sigel said, trying to grin, even though he found nothing particularly benign about it.

How do you play golf with that?

"You wobble a lot," he said. "You almost fall over. I almost wasn't going to play. They don't know what causes it -- maybe some fluid in the ear. The doctor," he added, leaning a hand against his locker to steady himself, "gave me some medicine, an antihistamine."

And so Sigel, having missed the cut for the first time in 11 Senior PGAs, packed up his stuff and got ready to leave Laurel Valley, uncertain about life with benign positional vertigo, and uncertain about his career.

"They said it goes away as quickly as it comes," Sigel said, with a trace of hope in his voice.

McNulty Finds Comfort at the Keyboard

Mark McNulty, who posted the lowest round of the tournament Friday with a 6-under 66, is also an accomplished piano player. In fact, McNulty, a native of Zimbabwe who now makes his home in Sunningdale, England, credits his piano playing with helping him stay relaxed.

"I think the thing nicest thing that I used to find in the past is that if I was struggling with the game or I was cheesed off or something, there was nothing like going home and just playing for 10 or 15 minutes," McNulty said. "It's relaxing and de-stressing."

Reid a Big Jimmy Stewart Fan

With an 8:10 a.m. ET tee time Friday, Mike Reid was able to enjoy a little free time in the afternoon. But instead of heading to the practice range and bang balls for a couple of hours, Reid instead planned to visit the former home of acting legend Jimmy Stewart in nearby Indiana, Pa.

"I think I'm going to go see the Jimmy Stewart museum and see if I can forget about golf for a while," said Reid, a Champions Tour rookie playing in his first Senior PGA Championship. "This course, I was spent by the last couple of holes. It takes a lot out of you."

Reid said he has no special affection for Stewart but wanted to find something to do to unwind after a grueling day, during which he posted a second straight 70 to enter the weekend two shots out of the lead at 4-under par.

"I've just always admired his career," Reid said. "He's a great actor. I have several of his films. He's Jimmy Stewart. I mean, why do people come here to watch Arnold Palmer? I mean, he's a legend, too."

Sir Bob Makes it 18

Sir Bob Charles of New Zealand made his 18th cut in 19 appearances in the Senior PGA Championship, the best overall percentage (.947) among players with a minimum of 15 cuts made in the Championship. Charles is followed in percentage success by Sam Snead with 17 made cuts in 19 appearances (.894).

Bad Back Shelves The Walrus

Craig Stadler withdrew from the 66th Senior PGA Championship prior to his tee time Friday due to problems in the lower right portion of his back. Stadler, last year's Champions Tour Player of the Year, was appearing in his third Senior PGA Championship. He opened with a 3-over-par 75 at Laurel Valley on Thursday.

Dandy Day for Two from Down Under

It was a good day for two players from Down Under. Charles, one of nine players in this year's Senior PGA Championship field who also played in the 1989 U.S. Senior Open at Laurel Valley, improved by 10 strokes from Thursday's opening-round 80 with a 2-under 70 and jumped from T133 up into a T58. Australia's Rodger Davis also opened with an 80 but rallied with a 5-under 67 Friday that included seven birdies. Davis' 13-stroke turnaround allowed him to make the biggest jump of anyone in the field, rising from T133 into a T31 after 36 holes.

Holding the Midway Lead No Guarantee

Since 1980, 36-hole leaders have gone on to win this event 12 out of 24 times, but just twice in the last six years. Doug Tewell led Dana Quigley by one stroke after 36 holes and went on to win the rain-shortened event in 2000 by seven shots. Last year, Hale Irwin was one stroke ahead of John Harris after two rounds and went on to defeat Jay Haas by a stroke in a Monday finish at Valhalla.

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