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Tom Kite
The wind wasn't a problem for Tom Kite Friday, but the course is still providing a variety of challenges. (Getty Images)

Despite lack of breeze, Kite breezes to top of scoreboard

The wind was calmer than expected Friday, and 60-year-old Tom Kite was better than even he expected. After two straight 69s, Kite is halfway toward his goal of finally winning a senior major.

By T.J. Auclair, PGA.com Interactive Producer

PARKER, Colo. – In 10 prior Senior PGA Championship starts, Tom Kite has only once finished outside of the top 25.

With his second consecutive 3-under 69 in Friday’s second round of the 71st Senior PGA Championship at Colorado Golf Club, Kite is in position to do a whole lot better than just a top 25. At 6-under 138, he's one shot behind halfway leader Fred Couples and is hoping the weatherman continues his streak of bad forecasts.

“We kept expecting it to pick up [the wind] because the forecast all today was at noon it was going to start blowing, and at 1 it was going to really start howling, and at 3 o'clock it was going to be knocking your hat off,” Kite said. “And right now it's about a 3 mph wind out there.”

Consequently, Kite said, the faulty forecasts are affecting the way the golf course is set up.

“They had the tees set up in a certain way anticipating certain conditions,” Kite said. “And then when the weatherman just blows it as badly as they have, I mean obviously the golf course is set up for the difficult conditions. And so you're going to see some lower scores.  I anticipate there will be some low scores this afternoon, unless something happens in the next three hours, which, I mean, it could, but so far the wind has really laid down.”

Beginning his second round on the back nine, Kite got off to a shaky start with a bogey on No. 11 when his 6-iron approach came up short of the green and he failed to get up and down. But he righted the ship rather quickly with birdies on Nos. 15 and 16 – back-to-back par 5s – for the second straight day to make the turn at 1 under for the round.

He heated up on the front nine with a string of three birdies beginning on No. 2, his 11th hole of the day, all on putts inside of five feet. Then he bogeyed his final hole when he misjudged the wind on his approach shot and pulled it to boot.

“We thought we were hurting, the wind was hurting a little bit, but it actually was helping a touch,” he explained. “So I hit an 8-iron, I hit it to the back left fringe and three-putted from that point.”

The wind, or lack thereof on Friday, has also had an impact on the set-up of the greens, which Kite and many others say are a lot slower than what they faced in the practice rounds.

“There has to be some concern that if the wind starts blowing like we have seen the first part of this week, that if the greens are fast, we can't keep the ball on the green,” Kite said. “You set it down and it won't stay there. So they don't want to have this be a mockery. 

“I think they would rather have the greens be a little slower. But you ask everybody in the field and they have left plenty of putts short this week already,” he added. “They're a little bit slower than what we saw in the practice rounds and a little slower than what we were anticipating this week.”

Kite, whose lone major victory came in the 1992 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, had his last win on the Champions Tour in 2008 at the Boeing Classic.

Having turned 60 years old this past December, Kite fully understands that wins at his age will be few and far between – if they come at all. That said, Kite has been playing great golf in 2010, racking up five top-25 finishes in seven starts, including a third-place finish in Mississippi a few weeks back.

“I have been playing quite nicely the last few weeks,” Kite conceded. “I finished fourth at Tampa, I finished third in Mississippi, and then I had two really good rounds at Birmingham, 67-67 the first two days, I just didn't play well on the third day, 72.  So I dropped back a little bit there. But I have been playing very well lately, so I'm on a nice run.”
 

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