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Notebook: Kuramoto on track for his target score
He tied for 12th in the Senior PGA Championship in Kiawah Island, S.C., last season. This year, he sits one back of leader Tom Purtzer after two rounds.
"The golf course is good for me," he said. "It's a tough golf course and it makes me more focused."
He hit the green in regulation 58.3 percent of the time over two days and is ranked 14th in total putts with an average of 28.5. Chipping and putting -- "especially in the high rough that's sticky, that's in my favor," he said -- are his strong suits.
Kuramoto arrived in Rochester on Monday and scoped out the venue. As he looked at the golf course, he vowed to keep his score at 5 over par after four rounds. So far, so good.
"I'm keeping my mind, I'm keeping it at 5 over. Thinking about that," he said. "After four days. So today (I was) 2 over and two days left, and 1 over is good for me."
Kuramoto, a native of Hiroshima, Japan, who never won on the PGA Tour but captured 39 victories worldwide, may actually finish below his target. His scores of 73 and 68 after the first and second day, respectively, mean he is just 1 over par for the tournament.
Despite being only 5-foot-5 and weighing 150 pounds, the 52-year-old ranked 12th on the Champions Tour last season in Driving Distance.
"My driving average is about 280 or 285 (yards)," Kuramoto said. "But (here) I don't need to hit it 285, I need it just 240 or 220 to keep it in the fairway.
"...So I try and hit the driver only three times today. Other holes, 5-wood or 3-wood or irons."
DRIVER DOS AND DON'TS: Like Massy Kuramoto, Bernhard Langer has figured out the strategy for Oak Hill Country Club: leave the driver in the bag.
Because of sharp doglegs, sloping fairways, intimidating trees and extremely thick rough, the course doesn't lend itself to using driver and forces players to lay up off the tee.
"I'm using a lot of 3-irons, hybrids, 3-woods, playing the course what it gives me," Langer said. "And I think that the course is set up extremely difficult if you hit driver on every hole."
He has hit 21 of 28 fairways in two rounds and scored back-to-back 71s using this method. At 2 over par after two days, Langer is tied for fourth and in the running for his third Champions Tour title this season.
On one rare occasion where he did use his Adams Insight Tour driver this week, Langer had an unusual occurrence. He heard a noise coming from the head of the club, which has two screws at the top, and he was concerned that one had wiggled loose.
"(Or) it could have been some weight inside the head that got loose because sometimes my drivers, I put a little bit of...spray or something, some kind of lead tape inside to make it draw. And I didn't know what it was," he said.
So Langer called a PGA rules official over and asked for clarification -- could he inspect the club and make any necessary adjustments?
"And it was one of the screws that just got half a turn lose or a turn and made a little bit of noise," Langer said. "So they were able to tighten it up for me and it was fine."
BIRDIE BUST: It's hard to put into words exactly how challenging the past two days have been at Oak Hill Country Club.
So we'll let Joey Sindelar provide an example with numbers. Sindelar played with Sam Torrance and Tim Simpson during the first two rounds of the Senior PGA Championship. The trio combined for 11 wins on the PGA Tour in their prime but struggled to simply make birdies and pars on Thursday and Friday.
"If you do 36 holes times three guys, whatever that is, 108 holes, between the three of us for two days we had six birdies," Sindelar said. "That's pretty bizarre. It tells you that it's a pretty tough job out there."
In round two, the course only gave up 246 birdies compared to 1,568 pars, 789 bogeys and 136 double bogeys.
NIGHT AND DAY: What a difference a day makes.
Tom Watson began the 69th Senior PGA Championship like 98.1 percent of the field -- over par after one round. He was well over par, in fact. On Thursday Watson penciled four bogeys and three double bogeys on the scorecard and shot an 8-over 78.
He usually thrives in British Open-esque conditions like the cold and windy ones seen on Thursday. Watson has the lowest scoring average on the Champions Tour this season -- he is first with an average of 69.33 strokes -- so 78 was an unusual round for the typically unflappable World Golf Hall of Fame member even in nasty weather.
"It was not unusual when you hit the ball in the rough as many times as I did," Watson countered. "Yesterday I probably hit it nine times in there."
Friday, however, was another story. He improved by almost 10 shots with a 1-under 69 and jumped 66 spots on the leaderboard, all the way up into a tie for 27th. His ball only found the rough four times, leading to two birdies and just one bogey for the day.
"I said to myself last night, I said if I shoot three rounds under 70 I would have a pretty good chance to win the golf tournament," Watson, winner of the 2001 Senior PGA Championship, said. "I got one round out of the way."
LIVING HISTORY: There's only one place in the world where you'll find replicas of trophies from six golf championships -- the Traditions of Oak Hill museum.
In the 107-year history of Oak Hill Country Club, it has hosted a U.S. Open Championship, Ryder Cup, PGA Championship, U.S. Senior Open Championship and now a Senior PGA Championship. The only golfer in history to have won a major championship and/or played in a Ryder Cup and not participated in an official event at Oak Hill was Byron Nelson.
To celebrate the course's rich heritage and honor the greats of the game who've walked the fairways of Oak Hill, Eastman Kodak Company and Oak Hill teamed up to create a museum. The official ribbon-cutting ceremony occurred on Friday at the Senior PGA Championship.
"We are in the memory business and we help people keep their memories for life," Jeff Hayzlett, Chief Business Development Officer and Vice President of Kodak, said. "So it was a good idea to be a part of this."
George Eastman created the photography business in Rochester, N.Y., that grew into one of the world's best-known organizations. Through their latest digital imaging technology, they helped preserve documents and images from Oak Hill's history.
The museum also features a time line that remembers the venue's most important events.
Joey Sindelar grew up not far from Rochester in Horseheads, N.Y., but even he didn't grasp the full spectrum of Oak Hill's history until he visited the new museum.
"When I walked in the museum and saw the entire scope of the golf history here, it's pretty amazing stuff. They did a beautiful job in that area. I wasn't even aware of it," Sindelar said, adding that he wanted his family to check it out as soon as they got into town. "It's very, very well done and a lot of meaningful stuff has happened here."
LEAVING EARLY: Nick Price and Jerry Pate both withdrew from the 69th Senior PGA Championship on Friday.
Price cited back troubles as the reason for his withdrawal, while Pate did not immediately give a reason for his departure.