GFC Search

 

Aoki Leads Big Names Lurk

RSS

If you see a light radiating from Peabody, Mass., its not the sun, the moon or a falling star. Its the ever-broadening grin being flashed by USGA officials.
 
Unlike last year, when Hale Irwin tallied a 17-under-par winning score at Saucon Valley, only one player is under par through 36 holes of the U.S Senior Open.
 
That player is Isao Aoki.
 
Aoki fired a 2-under-par 68 at Salem Country Club is secure a one-shot advantage entering weekend play in the Senior PGA Tours third major of the season.
 
Aoki stands at 1-under-par 139, the same number Bruce Fleisher posted to lead after day one. However, thanks to back-to-back bogeys on 17 and 18, Fleisher now resides in second place.
 
Fleishers 71 has him tied with Gil Morgan (70) at even-par. Larry Nelson (67) and Dana Quigley (70) are two back at 1-over.
 
Fleisher was one up entering the penultiamte hole Friday; but after a bogey at the 17th, he wanted to hit a 6-iron into the green at the 18th. Instead, he listened to his caddie, who suggested a 7-iron.
 
Both men were wrong. Fleisher came up two clubs short of the green and two-putted for bogey.
 
Jim Thorpe fired the round of the tournament, a 5-under-par 65 to tie Raymond Floyd (70), Jim Ahern (70) and Jim Colbert (67) for sixth place at 2-over.
 
Check out Thorpe's scorecard!
 
Thorpe, who finished second to Tom Watson in the Senior PGA Championship, was 12 strokes lower on Friday than he was in his opening round of 77.
 
A host of major talent is tied at 3-over. Tom Kite (70), Irwin (70) and Jack Nicklaus (72) are all just four shots off the lead.
 
Kite made the turn in 5-under-par 30, only to come home in 5-over-par 40.
 
Check out Kite's scorecard!
 
Nicklaus was within two shots of the lead following birdies at the 11th, 13th and 14th holes; however, the two-time Senior Open champion bogeyed holes 15-17 and narrowly escaped a fourth straight bogey at the home hole.
 
Aoki is seeking his first Senior victory in three years, and his first major title. He chased Nicklaus for 72 holes of the 1980 U.S. Open at Baltusrol Golf Club, only to come up two shots short.
 
He may be most remembered in the states for holing a pitching wedge out of the rough from 128 yards for an eagle-3 on the 72nd hole to leapfrog Jack Renner and win the 1983 Hawaiian Open, his only PGA Tour title.
 
At 58, Aoki is trying to join Roberto DeVicenzo as the only player over the age of 55 to win the Senior Open. It would also be his first victory since the 1998 BellSouth Senior Classic.
 
So, why the resurgence this week?
 
I dont know, said Aoki. Maybe putting. Putting is okay.
 
Okay? Aoki has taken only 26 putts in each of the first two rounds.
 
Nicklaus dropped in a 50-foot putt for birdie at the 1st on Friday. After another birdie at the 3rd moved him to even par for the tournament, his up-and-down round took a turn for the worse. He bogeyed the 4th, 7th and 8th holes to fall to 3-over.
 
For the day, the 61-year-old recorded five birdies, six pars and seven bogeys.
 
Sixty-four players made the cut, which fell at 9-over-par 149.
 
Full-field scores from the 22nd U.S. Senior Open

Related Articles