Halfway leader Fred Couples' 68 was the low score in the second round. (Montana Pritchard/The PGA of America)
Notebook: Couples builds lead by dominating front nine
Fred Couples is making the most of his early opportunities. Plus, Michael Allen is making a decent title defense, par is putting up a pretty good fight, and more.
By The PGA of America Communications Staff
PARKER, Colo. -- Fred Couples has played the front nine at Colorado Golf Club in 7 under par en route to taking the halfway lead in the Senior PGA Championship. He shot a 4-under 32 Friday after posting a 33 in the first round. Couples especially has enjoyed playing the par-5 seventh hole and the par-4 eighth hole, birdieing each hole both days. His 68 was the low score in the second round.
DECENT DEFENSE: Michael Allen broke through last year when he won the Senior PGA Championship in his first try at Canterbury Golf Club near Cleveland. After opening with a 1-under-par 71 on Thursday, Allen continued to be a factor Friday with an even-par 72 that leaves him at 1 under par for the Championship. Last year, Allen shot a pair of 67s in the final two rounds to win by two strokes.
ANNNDDD, CUT: The 36-hole cut fell at 7-over-par 151. A total of 81 players qualified to play this weekend. The highest number of players to make the cut in a Senior PGA Championship occurred in 2008, when 84 made the cut at Oak Hill Country Club in Rochester, N.Y.
FEWER UNDER PAR: Even with less wind than in the first round, there were only 15 scores under par, compared to 20 under par in the opening round. There are 16 players at par or better through the first 36 holes.
YOU CAN TAKE THE FIFTH: The par-4 fifth hole, which played to 468 yards Friday, has been the most difficult hole through the first 36 holes. The cumulative scoring average on the fifth was 4.519, with only 16 birdies made there as opposed to 109 bogeys, 23 double bogeys and seven scores higher than double. By contrast, the par-5 seventh hole is the easiest so far, with a scoring average of 4.831. The hole has given up four eagles and 86 birdies. The par-5 16th also has yielded 86 birdies, while 79 birdies have been made at the par-5 15th hole. The 16th hole also has yielded the most eagles (5) over the first two rounds.
SLIGHTLY TOUGHER IN THE SECOND ROUND: The scoring average for the field on Friday was 75.990, slightly higher than the 75.716 scoring average for the field in the first round.
EAGLES AND BIRDIES, OH MY: The marquee threesome of Fred Couples, Bernhard Langer and Fred Funk delivered plenty of good scoring over the first two rounds. They combined for two eagles and 29 birdies, and were 12 under par collectively.
DESIGNED FOR 72 HOLES: Ben Crenshaw, who along with Bill Coore designed Colorado Golf Club, shot 75 Friday and is at 3-over-par 147 midway through the Championship. Crenshaw was a driving machine through the first two rounds, hitting all 14 fairways Friday to give him 25 of 28 fairways hit after two rounds.
CHAMPIONS PLAYING ON: A combination of 10 Senior PGA Champions and PGA Champions made the cut, with two-time PGA Champion Nick Price low among that group at 3-under-par 141. Michael Allen is 1 under; Jay Haas and Tom Wargo are 2 over; Larry Nelson and Tom Watson are 5 over; Hale Irwin and Bob Tway are 6 over; and Mike Reid and Jeff Sluman are 7 over.
MATCHING CARDS: First-round co-leaders Bernhard Langer and Robin Freeman each shot 3-over-par 75 and are tied for sixth place, four strokes behind leader Fred Couples. Langer faltered late in the round, finishing double bogey-bogey. Freeman struggled early but rallied late with birdies on Nos. 14 and 17.
FAMILY AFFAIR: There are 28 players this week whose caddies come from their immediate families. Among the six wives caddying for their husbands is Sherri Sabo of Tequesta, Fla., wife of Ed Sabo, who has carried her husband’s bag for 15 major championships.
EIGHT PGA CLUB PROFESSIONALS MAKE THE CUT: James Blair III of Ogden, Utah, a two-time Colorado Open Champion, knows something about playing in elevated places and on golf courses bearing the Ben Crenshaw imprint. Lindy Miller of Fort Worth, Texas, just knows something about playing in the wind. Together, they managed to solve some of the difficulties presented them Friday and lead a contingent of 42 PGA Club Professionals at 2-over-par 146 at the midway point.
Blair, a 55-year-old PGA Life Member, posted an even-par 72 during another day of incessant swirling winds that played havoc with approach shots. He overcame a double-bogey 5 on the par-3 second hole by adding birdies on the third, 10th, 16th and 18th holes.
Miller, 53, a PGA teaching professional at Shady Oaks Country Club in Westworth Village, Texas, rallied with birdies on two of his final five holes for a hard-earned 75.
Chris Starkjohann of Oceanside, Calif., who stumbled home with a 77 after an opening-round 71, was next, followed by Mike San Filippo of Hobe Sound, Fla., at 150 after a 73.
Ron Vlosich of Lakewood, Colo., Jim Woodward of Edmond, Okla., reigning Senior PGA Professional National Champion Bill Britton of Rumson, N.J., and Bill Loeffler of Castle Rock, Colo., each survived the 36-hole cut of 7-over-par 151.
“I love this golf course, despite how hard it is playing,” said Blair. “I have always loved courses by Ben Crenshaw, and I’ve played five of them. I felt I had a good round today despite that double bogey on the second hole. It was an uphill battle after that.”
What kept Blair in the hunt was his long-range putting on the hardened greens.
“Making four birdies is nice,,” Blair said, “but I made three long putts, a 30-footer at 3, a 25-footer at 10 and a 50-foot bomb at 18.”
Blair’s other support comes from his caddie, son Zach, who is a 19-year-old freshman at Brigham Young University.
“It helps to know that I’ve got an extra set of good young eyes with me,” said Blair.
Miller, who is making his second Championship appearance and first since 2007, said that Colorado Golf Club has become an extra set of challenges for him.
“Today was a bit more of a struggle. I just did not hit it in the right places,” he said. “I did make a couple of birdies coming in to make things a bit better. I feel I have a couple more good rounds left in me and hope that it comes out this weekend.
“It’s one thing to be facing a tough golf course, but this one presents you three different types of challenges -- the change in elevation, the altitude and the wind."