Romero Still Leads Price Haas Close

RSS

2007 Senior PGA ChampionshipKIAWAH ISLAND, S.C. -- Eduardo Romero took the sting out of The Ocean Course for a second straight day, grabbing a two-stroke lead at the Senior PGA Championship.
 
Romero, the first-round leader after a 4-under 68 in strong wind, shot a 70 in calmer conditions Friday to move to 6 under.
 
And the Argentine star has dealt with few of the problems many others in the 50-and-over field have had over Pete Dye's seaside layout.
 
Maybe it was Romero's caution and concern that kept him trouble free so far.
 
'I told my caddie, 'We have to be very careful because double bogey and triple bogey are waiting for us,'' Romero said.
 
Instead, Romero used some big, accurate drives -- he said his tee shot went about 380 yards on the par-5 seventh -- to keep out front.
 
Naomichi 'Joe' Ozaki (71) remained second at 4 under. Nick Price, who won PGA Championships in 1992 and 1994, was next at 3 under after a 70.
 
But it was Romero's unwavering steadiness that led the way. He birdied two of his first three holes to extend his lead. When he slipped with bogeys on the back nine's two difficult par threes, Nos. 14 and 17, he quickly regained his form.
 
Romero's final birdie came at No. 7, giving last year's Champions Tour rookie of the year his cushion over the field.
 
'I cross my fingers for the conditions to remain like this,' Romero said, grinning.
 
The howling Atlantic wind Romero savors wasn't nearly as bothersome Friday with gusts falling off to 10 to 15 mph -- about half their first-round strength.
 
'I hesitate to say it was easier than yesterday, but the wind certainly was down,' said defending champion Jay Haas, five shots behind Romero.
 
Still, there were other obstacles. The biggest was the par-3 17th, a treacherous hole that sliced up competitors during the 1991 Ryder Cup -- and maintained its ferocious reputation Thursday and Friday.
 
The horror stories rivaled anything from 16 years earlier.
 
Ben Crenshaw stepped the tee a shot off the lead and left with a triple-bogey 6. He hit into a bunker left of the green, then chipped into the water when with his approach.
 
'There's no sand in that bunker,' said Fuzzy Zoeller, who played with Crenshaw. 'That's harder than the ... road we drove in on.'
 
David Ishii made par there the first round, but on Friday put three balls in the water on the way to a 10.
 
Tateo 'Jet' Ozaki's early run up the leaderboard was stopped cold by a triple on No. 5. Denis Watson was a shot from the lead before his double-bogey 5.
 
Haas' only back-nine bogey came at, you guessed it, No. 17.
 
There's not much for organizers to do. The hole, originally listed at 197 yards, was shortened to 178 for the opening round. On Friday, it was shrunk even more to 164 -- a simple wedge for some players.
 
Just like the opening round, officials used several forward tee placements that took about 180 yards off the scorecard yardage of 7,201.
 
Crenshaw said players had their hands full figuring out Dye's magnificent, maddening design. 'This was meant to be a punishing golf course,' Crenshaw said. 'And Pete Dye attempted (it) and brought it off.'
 
Irwin, part of the winning U.S. Ryder Cup team here 16 years ago, followed his opening 78 with a nifty 70. But afterward said, 'I'm still wondering what's going on.'
 
Zoeller, not out of it at 1 over, might have summed it up best: 'I'm going to have a vodka tonic.'
 
DIVOTS
Talk about a birthday present. D.A. Weibring, who turned 54 Friday, shot a 2-under 70, 10 strokes better than his opening round score. ... Haas is attempting to become the event's first repeat winner since Irwin won three straight from 1996-98. ... It looked as if Mike Reid would have to tee off by himself. Both his partners, John Mahaffey and Bill Rogers, withdrew during the first round. Officials paired Reid, a former Senior PGA winner, with California pro Ric Burgess on Friday. ... Ishii's 10 wasn't the only double-digit performance. Reed Hughes had a 10 on the par-5 16th.
 
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - Senior PGA Championship
     
    Copyright 2006 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.