Thorpe Grabs Lead Play Suspended

By Sports NetworkSeptember 15, 2006, 4:00 pm
2005 Constellation Energy ClassicHUNT VALLEY, Md. -- Jim Thorpe fired a 6-under-par 66 on Friday to take the lead during the suspended first round of the Constellation Energy Classic.
Heavy rain stopped play at 4:27 p.m. ET Friday and a short time later, it was decided to call the action for the day. It was the second time weather forced play to be called as the start of the tournament was delayed almost three hours.
Thirty-six players will return to Hayfields Country Club on Saturday morning at 7:30 a.m. to complete the first round. The second round is scheduled to begin at 10:00 a.m.
Unfortunately, showers are forecast for the area on Saturday.
Massy Kuramoto, Tom Jenkins and Walter Hall are knotted in second place at 4-under-par 68. Two-time winner this season Brad Bryant, Mark Johnson and Walter Hall are all 4-under par, but have yet to complete the opening round.
Two golfers are making their Champions Tour debuts this week and one availed himself nicely. Chip Beck posted a 3-under-par 69, while Scott Hoch, who has been sidelined for over a year with a wrist injury, carded an even-par 72 on Friday.
Thorpe did not get off to a great start on Friday as he three-putted the first green en route to a bogey. He missed an 8-footer for birdie at the second, but things turned around quickly.
He knocked a 7-iron to a foot to set up a birdie at the par-3 third. Thorpe reached the par-5 fifth green in two with a 3-wood and tapped in a 3-foot eagle putt to move to 2 under par for the championship.
'The eagle got things going for me,' said Thorpe, an 11-time winner on the elder circuit.
He hit another spectacular 7-iron, this time to set up a 4-foot birdie putt at the seventh. Thorpe parred out on the front nine to make the turn at minus-3.
On the second nine, Thorpe three-putted for another bogey at the 12th. That would be the last miscue for the 57-year-old.
He hit a pitching wedge to 2 feet for a birdie at the 13th and made it back- to-back birdies when he drained a 30-footer at the 14th. Thorpe polished off three birdies in a row at 15 when his pitching wedge approach stopped 12 feet from the stick.
Thorpe padded his lead at the par-5 closing hole. He sank a 17-footer for birdie to move two clear of the field, with more first-round golf still to be played.
'The course played very, very long today,' said Thorpe. 'The greens were really slow. I got myself into position now. The weather will play a major role in what happens this weekend.'
Thorpe has won two tournaments a year for the last three seasons, but has yet to break through in 2006. He finished as the runner-up at the Ford Senior Players Championship, but this has not been the kind of year Thorpe has grown to expect.
'I hadn't really played well this year, but it's been a little better the last four to six weeks,' acknowledged Thorpe. 'I reunited with my caddy today and he's been a very positive guy for me.'
Beck was joined in eighth place by the tour's second-leading money winner Jay Haas, two-time winner this season Tom Kite, Tom Purtzer, R.W. Eaks, Dave Eichelberger and Mark Lye.
Graham Marsh, Keith Fergus, Bruce Summerhays, Ron Streck and 2004 champion Wayne Levi are also 3-under par, but are still on the course.
Defending champion Bob Gilder is 2-under par through 15 holes.
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