Notebook: Seven of the 37 club pros survive the cut
Plus, Tom Watson goes from snakes to birdies, Dan Monday rebounds like an NBA player, Lee Trevino has plenty to say, Gil Morgan wants the wind to take the weekend off, the leaders played one hole like a skins game, and more.
By T.J. Auclair, Junior Editor
EDMOND, Okla. -- It started with 37. When the dust cleared on Friday, seven of those 37 PGA Club Professionals survived the 36-hole cut at the 67th Senior PGA Championship.
None of them was better than Mike Barge, the 51-year-old Director of Instruction at Hazeltine National Golf Club in Chaska, Minn.
Barge, playing in his first Senior PGA Championship, turned in a remarkable 3-under-par 68 in the second round. Combined with a 2-over 73 on Thursday, Barge will head into weekend play tied for 11th at 1-under-par.
Darrell Kestner, PGA Head Professional at Deepdale Golf Club in Manhassett, N.Y., and Kirk Hanefeld, former PGA Head Professional at Salem Country Club in Salem, Mass., were next best. Both players were tied for 28th at 2-over through two rounds.
"My goal is to try to make the cut and have a good showing here," Kestner said. "I'm a club pro. I've been working and giving lessons back there in New York.
"It's been raining and cold and we haven't been playing that much golf. But when I played, I played well. So I was hoping to make the cut here, make a good showing and now, like last year, I made the cut and I finished OK. But I want to try to do a little bit better this year."
As for the rest, Bob Ackerman (PGA Master Professional from Bloomfield, Mich.) and Perry Arthur (Director of Golf at the Dallas Stars Country Club in Texas) are tied for 35th at 3-over, while Jon Fiedler (Director of Golf at Las Posas Country Club in Camarillo, Calif.) and Gary Robinson (Director of Golf at Firestone Country Club in Akron, Ohio) round out the PGA Professionals making the cut. Fiedler and Robinson are tied for 68th at 6-over.
FROM SNAKES TO BIRDIES: Tom Watson made an incredibly unlikely birdie at the par-5 16th hole Friday. After sending a wayward second shot well left of the fairway and into a hazard, Watson removed his socks and shoes, rolled up his pants and cautiously crept into a shallow stream of water.
With snakes slithering around in plain sight and his ball well above his feet (imagine a lumberjack unloading his ax into a tree), Watson nestled into his address and hit a spectacular shot onto the green, 25 feet short of the hole.
After wiping all the mud out of his toes and drying his feet, Watson deftly rolled home the birdie putt.
"It wasn't that difficult a shot," said Watson, in arguably the biggest understatement of this 67th Senior PGA Championship. "I just had an awkward stance. That's all. I knocked it on the green and then made a putt for the birdie. So it went from a bogey to a birdie and instead of 3-over I was 1-over."
Simple as that.
TRUNK SLAMMER: Dan Monday, the PGA Head Professional at the Redlands Country Club in California, rebounded incredibly from an opening round 22-over 93.
The hard-luck Monday was more than respectable in the second round, carding a 6-over 77.
He's got to be kicking himself just a little, though. An even-par round on Thursday would have made the cut on the number.
THE THREE STOOGES: Just moments before the 8:50 a.m. tee time featuring Gary Player, Dave Stockton and Lee Trevino was about to be called up to the first tee Friday morning, a distinctive voice hollered from the practice green, behind the tee box.
"Hold the tee! I don't want to get DQ'ed!"
It was Trevino, the "Merry Mex," whose talking -- it seems -- is just as legendary as his golf.
As one story goes, Tony Jacklin was paired with him at a tournament and didn't appreciate Trevino's banter. Jacklin told him as much before the round started, "Lee, I don't want to talk today."
Trevino's reply: "I don't want you to talk. I just want you to listen."
When Trevino walked to the tee greeting everyone in sight Friday, he took a look at the adjacent 18th green, stared at the back-right pin position sitting just a couple of feet away from a huge ridge, shook his head and said, "It's only going to get worse. That's why I'm glad I'm going home today," insinuating there was no chance he was going to make the cut.
After Trevino's comment about the pin placement, Player chimed in, "Ray Charles set that pin."
A burst of laughter ensued. And for a minute, it was hard to tell if this was the 67th Senior PGA Championship or a stand-up routine on Comedy Central.
When the tee time was finally announced, Trevino was still holding court with his wisecracks. The problem was he had the honor.
When the assembled crowd simmered down, Stockton begged, "Come on Lee, stop talking and grab a club."
It was as if these guys prepared the routine before the round started.
Between them, Trevino, Player and Stockton have combined to win 16 major championships on the PGA Tour and 13 on the Champions Tour.
Stockton, who has the least number of majors to his credit (two on the PGA Tour and three on the Champions Tour), was announced last. When the starter announces the players, each player's major wins are mentioned in the introduction.
Obviously, Trevino and Player are tough acts to follow, as Stockton pointed out.
"That would have sounded good in any other group," Stockton told the gallery.
Indeed, it would have.
Just as he predicted, Trevino missed the cut. He carded a 3-over-par 74 Friday, making his two-day total 11-over 153.
Player also missed the cut at 152, but Stockton just slipped in on the number at 6-over 148.
THE WIND IS COMING: The first round was rather benign, while the second round was a preview of things to come.
Winds reached speeds between 15-20 mph on Friday, but were expected to be between at least 20-30 mph on Saturday.
When the forecast was brought to the attention of Gil Morgan following his 1-under-par 70 that got him to 6-under for the tournament, the Edmond native asked the reporter, "Can you do something about that?"
Obviously Morgan is accustomed to the wind, living in this part of the country. Still, he was hopeful it wouldn't kick up too much.
"If it doesn't pick up, I think it would be a plus," he said. "I would like to play the championship without a whole lot of terrific winds here. Being in Oklahoma, we're going to get wind a lot, so you've got to learn to play in it here somewhat. I just wish it wouldn't be to the point where it was real detrimental to everybody's game. I would like to see scoring a little bit better."
A BAD READ: While his 68 Friday was impressive, Peter Jacobsen has to be wondering exactly how great a round it could have been.
He missed birdie putts from four, five, six and 10 feet. But it wasn't bad putting that caused those short misses, Jacobsen explained.
"I think I struggled with reading the greens, more than anything," he said. "I felt like I was hitting good putts. I was hitting the spots. That's one of the things we talk about, my caddie and I, we talk about just how you have to hit your line, hit your spot, roll your putter or roll your ball and that's all you can do."
LUCKY 13: For at least one hole Friday, two of the players on the leader board wished they were playing in an event held during golf's so-called silly season.
The threesome of tournament leader Peter Jacobsen, second-place Gil Morgan and Bruce Fleisher all birdied the par-3 13th hole during the second round. That led Morgan and Jacobsen to wonder if there were such a thing as a "group skin" -- a reference to the format used in the Skins Game when a golfer wins a hole.
"We'll maybe see it posted in the locker room tomorrow," said Morgan. "It would be great."
Jacobsen and Morgan each hit a pitching wedge off the tee on the 171-yard 13th, with Jacobsen's shot ending up 2 feet from the hole -- located on the front of the green -- and Morgan's about 7 feet away. Fleisher's tee shot landed about 5 feet out.
"That was a scary pin," said Jacobsen.
FOND MEMORIES: Jay Overton was a little-known PGA Professional from Palm Harbor, Fla., in 1988 when he stunned the golf world by entering the third round of the PGA Championship at Oak Tree at 8-under-par -- just one shot out of the lead -- and playing in the final group that Saturday with second-round leader Paul Azinger.
Overton's magic ride didn't last -- he closed with rounds of 76 and 74 and tied for 17th with an even-par 284, 12 shots behind the winner, Jeff Sluman.
Overton didn't fare as well in his return to Oak Tree for the Senior PGA Championship. His 77 on Friday left him at 15-over and far from the cut line.
"There were a couple of holes that they changed a little bit, some of the greens have been changed, but overall, it plays and looks and feels so much the same," Overton said. "I'm struggling a little bit. But you know what? To get back out here and see the guys and come back to Edmond, Oklahoma, it's just been a lot of fun."
BACK-NINE BRYANT: At 6-under-par and one shot off the lead after two rounds, Brad Bryant probably wishes he only had to play the back nine.
His combined score on the back nine is 7-under for the week to go against 1-over on the front.
"I've played the par 5s on the front nine 2-over," Bryant said. "That's the difference. Yesterday on the third hole I drove the ball so far I think we didn't really know what to do, so I chose to lay it up behind a tree, which is always good. And then I hit it on the green and three-putted.
"So what is it? The fifth hole, the other par 5 -- I think they ought to just destroy that hole," he continued. "I don't like that hole. It's OK, but they didn't ask me about it. But I like the rest of them pretty good, but I don't like that hole ... It's really not my favorite. And so yesterday I made bogey there. I hit a bad shot, chose the wrong club and hit the ball in the sand trap and hit the ball over the green into the sand trap again and then made a 6."
FIELD CHANGES: There were four withdrawals prior to Friday's second round.
Takashi Miyoshi of Kagawa, Japan, withdrew due to heat exhaustion. He completed Thursday's opening round with an 81 in his second Championship appearance.
Jack Spradlin of Chula Vista, Texas, also pulled out because he was suffering from effects of the heat after his first round. He posted an 82 Thursday, his third appearance in the Championship.
Martin Gray of Ladybank, Scotland, making his Championship debut, had to withdraw because of a bout with the flu. He had an 84 in the first round.
Bob Eastwood of Haltom City, Texas, withdrew due to a back injury. He shot a 78 in the first round.
With those four withdrawals, Friday's field featured 152 players.
AROUND THE CUT: Three former Senior PGA Champions missed the cut -- Gary Player (+10), Lee Trevino (+11) and Tom Wargo (+13). Also missing the cut were 2005 champion Mike Reid, and Jerry Pate. However, former major league pitcher Rick Rhoden made his first Senior PGA Championship cut in three attempts.
SHORT-GRASS SUCCESS: Curtis Strange and Darrell Kestner are tied for the the fewest putts through 36 holes with 51 each. Strange needed only 23 on Friday.
MAJOR SUCCESS: Four players currently in the top 10 have at least one Champions Tour major title to their credit. Tom Watson (T5) leads with four, including two Senior British Opens, a Senior PGA Championship and a Jeld-Wen Tradition title. In addition, Watson won eight majors on the PGA Tour, including five British Opens.
Gil Morgan (T2) has two Traditions and a Ford Senior Players Championship, while leader Peter Jacobsen owns a U.S. Senior Open title and a Senior Players Championship. Loren Roberts (T5) won last year's Tradition.
GOING LIKE SIXTY: Peter Jacobsen (67-68) and Brad Bryant (69-67) are the only two players with two rounds in the 60s. Bryant (T2) shared low-round honors on Friday with Tom Purtzer, who rode his 67 from T53 all the way to T9.
FOREIGN LEADER: Jose Rivero, a member of the victorious European Ryder Cup teams in 1985 and 1987, is currently T5 and leads all the international players in the field. Rivero also leads all players in greens in regulation at 83.3 percent (30 of 36) after 36 holes.
FIELD FACTS: The field scoring average jumped slightly on Friday. After averaging 74.540 strokes per round on Thursday, the average rose to 74.928 on the second day. The 592-yard, par-5 third hole played as the most difficult on Friday, averaging 5.414 (+.414). The easiest was the par-5 16th with an average score of 4.783 (-.217). There were three eagles and 54 birdies on the hole.
A FINAL WORD FROM TREVINO: The second hole at Oak Tree Golf Club, a par 4, features one of the smallest greenside bunkers you'll ever see. During the second round Friday, Trevino somehow found that bunker with his approach shot.
After he failed to get up and down, Trevino quipped, "That's the cutest bunker I've ever seen."
The best thing about Trevino is you can never tell whom he's talking to. The gallery? His caddie? His playing companions? Himself?
Take No. 5 for instance, a par 5. Trevino's second shot sailed to the right and came to rest on the upslope of the rough, just outside a steep bunker.
Examining his lie, Trevino shrugged his shoulders, shook his head and pondered aloud, "I want to know how many members stayed after they messed up this damn golf course. I bet not many."
The Associated Press and Bob Denney of The PGA of America
contributed to this report.