My first goal is to hit the fairway on No. 1. Then Ill try to shoot under par on the front nine and see what happens from there, Roberts said Saturday after his 3-under 68 gave him the lead after two rounds in the Champions Tour event.
Roberts has been the leader after both rounds on the 7,082-yard Red Course at Eisenhower Park. Its been the final few holes that have allowed that to happen.
He had played holes 14-18 in 6 under, a huge portion of his 9-under 133 total that has him two in front of David Eger (66) and Scott Simpson (67).
I couldnt get a birdie on the front nine and the three-putt bogey from the back fringe on No. 1 just had me in neutral for the next eight holes, said Roberts, who has yet to win this year but has three second-place finishes and is fourth on the money list. I drove out of the fairway too much today. I have to hit the driver better tomorrow.
Roberts had a one-stroke lead after the opening round, just as he did in 2007. Last year, he shot a second-round 71 to fall out of first place and finished second to Lonnie Nielsen by two strokes.
His start Saturday didnt bode well for a chance to stay on top. Roberts bogeyed No. 1 before nine straight pars had him three shots off the lead. But he birdied No. 11 from 5 feet and then added birdies on Nos. 14, 15 and 17'the longest a 12-foot putt'to take advantage of late swoons by leaders Mike Goodes and Keith Fergus, who both reached 8 under before faltering.
I look at leaderboards so I knew where I was with those guys, Roberts said.
He said the birdie at the par-4 15th, where he hit a 3-iron to 6 feet, was huge. That was worth a half-shot on the field. It was one of only five birdies in the round on the 454-yard hole.
Eger is looking for his third Champions Tour win and first since 2005. He had four of his five birdies on the front nine. He has three top 10 finishes this year and is 27th on the money list.
My front nine was nearly flawless and I struggled a bit on the back, he said. I didnt leave many strokes out there and thats been the issue this year.
Simpson, the 1987 U.S. Open champion, had three birdies in a four-hole stretch starting at No. 12. Simpson, who has one Champions Tour win, has finished in the top 10 four times this year and is 15th on the money list.
Ive been playing real steady even though I havent won yet, he said. Last year I was struggling but this year has been pretty steady and when Im playing well Im really steady. Theres nothing flashy about my game.
Nielsen, whose win here last year was the first of his career, had a 69. He was in a group of six at 136 that included Goodes, who bogeyed Nos. 15 and 17 in a 68.
Fergus was among 12 players another stroke back. He bogeyed three of the last four holes in a 70 to finish tied with Jeff Sluman (67), who won last week by two strokes over Roberts, Nick Price (69), Andy Bean (69) and Mark W. Johnson, who matched the days low round with a 65.
Tom Kite, who opened with a 73, also had a 65 Saturday. Nielsen took the lead last year for good with a second-round 64. Roberts 9-under total after two rounds tied the highest ever for this tournament, matching Tom Jenkins in 2006. He lost in a playoff to John Harris. Peter Jacobsen, returning to competition after knee replacement surgery in March, followed his opening 77 with a 73. Goodes is in this event for the second time. He finished tied for 70th last year at 218.