Notes Kite in Contention at Congressional


BETHESDA, Md. -- Sure enough, just as his 31-year streak of U.S. Open appearances is about to come to an end, Tom Kite goes out and shoots his best back-to-back rounds of the year.
The 55-year-old Kite shot rounds of 68 and 69 Thursday and Friday to put him at 5 under par and four shots off the lead midway through the Booz Allen Classic.
'I'm pleased with how I'm playing, pleased with how I'm putting,' said Kite, whose trademark straw hat is the perfect attire for the sticky weather this week at Congressional Country Club. 'Got a lot more to go.'
Kite won the 1992 U.S. Open but failed to make this year's field in qualifying at nearby Rockville. He's concentrating more on the Champions Tour these days and has made just two PGA Tour cuts in nine tournaments.
Asked if playing well this week would take away the string from missing the Open, Kite said, 'A good week here is always nice.'
Kite said Congressional is playing easier than expected, but he's still not a fan of the setup that has the course ending with a par-3 18th hole.
'That's probably the one drawback to the golf course,' Kite said. 'The 17th hole is a great finishing hole. Unfortunately, with that lake behind the green, there's not room for all the spectator amenities you need in a finishing hole. So I can understand why they did it, but finishing on a par 3 is kind of a strange feeling.'
Three Australians - Robert Allenby, Adam Scott and Steve Elkington - are within two shots of the lead after two rounds, the latest sign of the Down Under invasion of the PGA Tour.
'We have so many,' Elkington said. 'I haven't gotten around to introducing myself to all of them yet. ... As a rule, Australian sportsmen travel really well. They've always done well in the Olympics and big events for some reason. Australians can leave their home and compete and do well.'
Elkington is among the elder statesmen of the group, and he's happy to be playing well after a spate of injury problems a couple of years ago.
'I'm like a giant mutual fund,' he said. 'My stock went up, went down. Maybe I'm kind of coming up a bit more now.'
Second-round leader Allenby's only bogey of the day came at the par-5 ninth hole, when his attempt to reach the green in 2 landed short and on the steep slope of a huge gully.
'Just before I went to hit my 3-wood,' Allenby said, 'my caddie did say, 'Oh, what about laying up?' So I hit the 3-wood and I looked at him and said, 'Thank you very much. Thanks for the vote of confidence.''
It seems like a stretch, but Phil Mickelson said it. Asked how this week's tournament will help him prepare for next week's U.S. Open, Lefty instead thought ahead to the next time that the major will be held at Congressional.
'I think the great thing about this is the more rounds we get out here at Congressional before the 2011 U.S. Open,' Mickelson said. 'We'll still remember some shots, some putts we hit on these greens that will carry over into the performance in 2011.'
No one expected first-round leader Matt Gogel to match the course record of 63 he set Thursday, but he certainly wasn't satisfied with a 72.
'I knew I wasn't going to shoot a really low score again today like a 65 or so,' Gogel said, 'but I fully expected to play better than I did.'
Gogel's problem was off the tee - he missed seven of 14 fairways - but he also had a 3-putt from 45 feet at No. 16 after he and playing partners Glen Day and Tom Pernice Jr. were warned for slow play.
'We were being timed the last four or five holes,' Gogel said. 'I didn't have much time to look at the putt, rushed the putt.'
Still, Gogel is just two shots behind Allenby headed into the weekend.
'If I can get the ball on the fairway over the weekend, I'll be a factor,' he said.
Related Links:
  • Leaderboard - Booz Allen Classic
  • Full Coverage - Booz Allen Classic
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