Happy Days Here Again for Gilder Kite

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You never know when it will happen, those magical days after you reach age 50 when every shot you hit is straight as a string - high and far and straight.
 
Bob Gilder birdied the difficult 18th at the Gaillardia Golf & Country Club to break out of a tie with Tom Kite Thursday at the Senior Tour Championship in Oklahoma City, Okla. He shot a 5-under-par 67, Kite finished with a 4-under 68, and both agreed that it was one of those rare days on the golf course.
 
I hit the ball great today, an enthusiastic Gilder said. I hit some great irons. I hit it right at the hole all day. I felt in control.
 
Gilder birdied No. 18, a 553-yard stretch of land that was playing directly into a 15 mile-per-hour north wind, by hitting driver, 4-iron and pitching wedge. He then rattled home an 11-foot putt for the birdie and walked away from the hole a happy soul indeed.
 
Meanwhile, Kite was continuing the excellent run that he has had for several weeks now.
 
This was another of several good rounds I have played lately, said Kite. I had a 62 at Sacramento a couple of weeks ago. Today I continued to play awfully well. I hit a lot of greens ' I couldnt have missed more than two or three all day, and I never really had to chip. I think I putted all three times I missed the green. It was just a nice, easy day.
 
Both Gilder and Kite eagled the par-5 3rd hole, which was playing straight downwind. Gilder reached with a 4-iron second shot and dunked in a 25-foot birdie. Kite, who had opened with a 15-foot birdie at No. 1, hit a 5-iron second shot to 18 feet on No. 3 and drained the putt. Kite followed with an 8-foot birdie on the 6th hole to go 4-under at that stage, then parred his way to the clubhouse.
 
Leading money-winner Allen Doyle shot a 1-over 73, with No. 2 Bruce Fleisher firing a 2-under 70. Hale Irwin, ranked No. 3, got around in even-par 72, while Larry Nelson, trying for his sixth win this season, had a 3-over 75.
 
Gilder didnt putt the ball well, despite his excellence with the irons. He missed twice from inside six feet on the first two holes. He missed from eight feet at the 12th, inside five feet on the 15th, and had at least a couple of others in which he missed makeable birdies.
 
I didnt feel quite comfortable with my putting this week, he said. But I did hit good putts the last two holes.
 
One, of course, was his final-hole birdie. The other, at No. 17, was an eight-footer which saved what looked to be a certain bogey.
 
Kite putted just like he hit the ball ' very well. His three under-par holes came on putts of 15 feet, 18 feet and eight feet.
 
Im hitting the ball further than Ive ever hit it, the 51-year-old Kite said. Of course, part of that is due to the equipment. But I weigh close to 170 now, and I only weighed 155 most of my regular-tour career. And the extra weight is all muscle. I hit it 280 now, where I used to hit it 260 on the regular tour. For one thing, my workouts are so much better.
 
There are other differences, too. With three days play for the normal event instead of four, I always go home, said Kite. That is very important in staying sharp all the time.
 
At one time, Kite was a wonderful putter, nearly always reliable when it counted. Now, though, he struggles with the blade. Theres no sense in beating myself up over it, but it comes and goes, he said. Ive just got to make sure that on the weeks when it comes, Im not sitting at home. Ive got to make sure Im out here.
 
Full-field scores from the Senior Tour Championship