Veteran Rookie Lead in Milwaukee

By Associated PressJuly 19, 2007, 4:00 pm
US Bank Championship in MilwaukeeMILWAUKEE -- Jeff Maggert turned to an old friend to help straighten out his sagging golf game, dusting off a Ping Anser putter that might be older than his five children.
 
Maggert, who missed the cut in his previous four tournaments, put a putter he has had for 'probably 15 or 20 years' and a new set of irons to good use at Brown Deer Park on Thursday, shooting a 7-under-par 63 to tie rookie Brendon de Jonge for the lead in the first round of the U.S. Bank Championship.
 
For all the technological advances to hit the golf world in the past two decades, Maggert said the familiar feel of an older club sometimes makes all the difference.
 
'It made me think a little bit more about making putts instead of worrying about missing putts,' Maggert said. 'It's confidence more than anything, I guess.'
 
Confidence has been fleeting lately for Maggert, a PGA TOUR veteran with three career victories. At 43, family obligations keep him from practicing as intensely as he used to, and he admits he's having a hard time keeping up with golf's hard-charging younger generation.
 
That group might now include De Jonge, a native of Zimbabwe who played collegiate golf at Virginia Tech. One day after his 27th birthday, he shot a 63 to claim a share of the lead.
 
With most of the top PGA TOUR players overseas for the British Open this week, de Jonge said this tournament could be an opportunity for a young player to break through.
 
'It's a good chance for any young guy to get a win,' de Jonge said. 'Obviously, it's not as strong a field by any means, but it's still always going to be a good field. It's a great chance for one of us to make a move, definitely.'
 
De Jonge holed out a chip shot from 100 yards away to eagle the par-4 second hole. But he didn't actually see the shot fall because the hole is a dogleg left with a blind approach.
 
'We just heard the lady behind the green,' de Jonge said. 'She got pretty excited, so we figured it was either in or really close. It was nice to walk up there and not see the ball.'
 
Maggert also had an eagle during his round, making a 20-foot putt on the par-5 15th hole.
 
'Sometimes, when you change something like a putter or an iron, it just takes some negative focus away from some negative things and puts some positive thoughts in your head,' Maggert said.
 
Maggert also switched to a new set of Ping irons that hasn't yet hit store shelves, but said the old putter made the biggest difference Thursday.
 
'For me, it usually starts with putting,' Maggert said. 'When you're putting poorly, it just puts a lot of pressure on the rest of your game. You feel like you've got to hit your iron shots really well, and you feel like you've really got to chip the ball close to the hole. And when you're putting well, you're not really concerned if you're three feet away or six feet away on your chips.'
 
Maggert has made the cut in only seven of the 16 PGA TOUR events he has played this year, and hasn't played into the weekend since the Crowne Plaza Invitational in May.
 
Maggert said there's nothing in particular wrong with his game, but acknowledges that his priorities have changed as he has gotten older.
 
'It's probably being 43 years old and having five kids,' Maggert said. 'The priorities are just so much different for me now than what they used to be.'
 
Maggert's oldest son is in college, and his youngest are 3-year-old twins. He admits he 'very rarely' works hard on his game when he's at home, making it hard to keep up with golf's younger generation.
 
'Those kids are young and strong and they work hard, and sometimes it's kind of hard to keep up with those guys,' Maggert said.
 
Garrett Willis, who made the Brown Deer field as an alternate, is third at 6 under. Tour veteran Robert Gamez is tied for fourth at 5 under with Jay Williamson, who made the field on a sponsor exemption. Jesper Parnevik is one of five players tied for sixth at 4 under.
 
After his round, Parnevik responded harshly to recent comments from Gary Player, who on Wednesday urged golf to begin random drug testing and said he knew of at least one player who uses performance-enhancing drugs.
 
'I thought it was stupid,' Parnevik said. 'I personally don't know one person who used them.'
 
Parnevik, decked out in tight black pants and a black derby he called a 'Chicago mob hat,' said steroids wouldn't help a golfer play better anyway.
 
'It wouldn't advantage you at all,' Parnevik said. 'Nobody would play better golf. You probably would do a lot worse -- your touch would disappear.'
 
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