Watson Leads Windy SBC Classic

RSS

Tom Watson posted a 3-under 69 on Saturday to grab the 36-hole lead at the SBC Senior Classic, where winds once again dominated play. The three-time winner on the elder circuit stands at 3-under-par 141 and is two ahead of Tom Kite, Gil Morgan and Doug Johnson, the only other players under par for the week.
 
'It's like a chess game,' Watson said. 'You have to play the wind. You try to pick the shot. That's my forte. It fits right into my game.'
 
Winds gusted up to 30 miles per hour on Saturday and the sloping greens also impacted Valencia Country Club, which has played as the toughest venue on the Senior Tour in 2002.
 
Watson bogeyed the third hole but cruised throughout the remainder of the front nine. He nestled a sand-wedge approach to a foot to set up birdie at the fifth and added another birdie two holes later, this time from 40 feet.
 
The five-time British Open champion ran home a pair of 15-foot birdies at nine and 10 to grab the outright lead and extended the margin at the par-4 13th when he drained a six-foot birdie.
 
Watson would have owned a three-shot lead heading into Sunday but he missed the green at the par-3 16th and failed to convert a four-foot par save.
 
Watson realized that the outside factor of mother nature is one that can dominate the tournament.
 
'I honestly think the wind is the unknown factor,' said Watson, who held the lead on Sunday at the ACE Group Classic in February but surrendered the lead to Hale Irwin. 'It's the most challenging part of the game of golf. How you judge the wind determines the outcome.'
 
Kite had one of the lowest scores of the second round as he opened with three birdies in his first six holes. He dropped a shot at the eighth but rebounded with a two-putt birdie on the ninth to make the turn at 3-under 33.
 
Kite, a player with great wind experience based on his U.S. Open win at Pebble Beach in 1992, three-putted from 25 feet for a bogey at 11 but he two-putted from the same distance for birdie at 15 and a round of 69.
 
'I think I'm a better wind player than most of the guys,' said Kite, who stands at 1-under-par 143. 'It gives me an advantage.'
 
Morgan, who along with Tom Purtzer were the only players under par after the first round, birdied two of his last three holes en route to an even-par 72 on Saturday.
 
Johnson, a Monday qualifier, birdied two of his last four to post a round of 2-under 70.
 
Purtzer is alone in fifth place at even-par after a 2-over 74 in the second round.
 
Full-field scores from the SBC Senior Classic