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Purtzer edges into lead after another tough day at Oak Hill
"I mean, it's really brutal," Purtzer said. "To me, it's borderline too difficult."
Tell that to the other 83 players who managed to make the eye-popping cut of 12 over heading into the final two rounds this weekend.
A five-time PGA Tour winner, Purtzer shot a 3-under 67 to go to even-par 140 for the $2 million tournament. That put him one up on Jay Haas, the first-round leader, who shot a 2-over 72, and Massy Kuramoto, who finished the day with a round of 2 under.
Mark O'Meara scored the tournament's low round of 66 to jump into a tie for fourth with Bernhard Langer at 142.
There are 26 players within 6 shots of the lead. Greg Norman, Scott Hoch and defending Senior PGA champion Denis Watson were part of a 10-player logjam at 145.
Otherwise, the East Course continued its dominance, giving up only eight sub-par rounds over two days. While temperatures warmed to above 60 on Friday after a bone-chilling and wet opening round, a tricky and persistent wind played havoc with competitors.
Over and over again, those atop the leaderboard voiced their frustrations over how difficult this winding, narrow and well-protected 7,001-yard course is playing.
"Golf course is so difficult," said Kuramoto, who has spent most of his career playing on the Japan Tour. "I'm thinking not distance. I'm thinking only keeping it fairway."
"Well, it's tough to not get frustrated here," said Langer, the Champions Tour money leader. "I've hit a number of good putts, a number of good shots that produced no result or a bad result."
Purtzer at least enjoyed some good results during a five-birdie, two-bogey round. Starting on No. 10, he fell to 2 over with a bogey on No. 5 before closing strong with a 12-foot putt for birdie on No. 7 and a 25-footer for birdie on No. 9.
"I just feel fortunate to be here," said Purtzer, a six-year Champions Tour veteran, who has posted only two top-10 finishes in 11 events this season. "I feel pretty good about what I'm doing, so we'll just see what happens."
The cut was the highest at a Senior PGA Championship since 1990, when it was set at 13 over at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.
O'Meara created a buzz with his 66 on a course that had only three players shoot 66 or better at the 2003 PGA Championship: Chad Campbell shot a 65, while Phil Mickelson and Rod Pampling both shot 66.
Bouncing back from a wildly inconsistent opening round, which included three double-bogeys and one triple, O'Meara settled down by carding six birdies on Friday. The best came on No. 13, where he holed a 25-foot putt. He then completed his day by holing a 12-foot putt to save par on No. 18.
"It's good. It's certainly good, because it would've been easy to go out there today and shoot another 4 or 5 or 6 over," O'Meara said.
O'Meara's 4-under round came from out of nowhere, considering he's managed only two top-10 finishes on the Champions Tour this season and after having no success in his previous two visits to Oak Hill. He missed the cut at the PGA Championship five years ago and at the 1989 U.S. Open.
Without going into much detail, O'Meara blamed his struggles this year on a personal issue, which he later referred to as "a relationalship thing."
"It's been a tough year," said O'Meara, who won both The Masters and British Open in 1998. "Today, I felt my patience and attitude were a little bit better. I tried to stay more in the moment."
Haas, meanwhile, stumbled in a round that included a double bogey on the par-3 No. 15. His 2 over ended a string of three straight sub-par rounds at Oak Hill, dating to his final two rounds during the 2003 PGA Championship.
"Yeah, I like my position. I probably would've taken it after two days," said Haas. "I felt like with Mark O'Meara shooting 4 under that it was probably going to be an easier day. But it was not for me."
Among those missing the cut were four-time Senior PGA champion Hale Irwin, who was 15 over after two rounds, and Fuzzy Zoeller (13 over).
Copyright 2008 Associated Press. All rights reserved.