Pate Sets the Pace at Senior PGA

By Sports NetworkMay 27, 2005, 4:00 pm
LIGONIER, Pa. -- Jerry Pate posted a 4-under 68 on Friday to take the lead midway through the 66th Senior PGA Championship. He stands at 6-under-par 138 and is one ahead of R.W. Eaks at Laurel Valley Golf Club.
Eaks shot a 2-under 70, while Mark McNulty (66) and Mike Reid (70) are knotted in third place at minus-4.
Arnold Palmer, who is believed to be playing his last competitive round in his hometown, struggled to a 14-over 86 and is toward the bottom of the leaderboard.
Mark McNulty
Mark McNulty's 6-under 66 on Friday got him to within two strokes of leader Jerry Pate.
He delighted the galleries at his home course on the 17th hole. Palmer drained a 20-foot birdie putt, then nearly holed a 40-footer for birdie at the last. He walked off to huge applause from several recognizable faces in the crowd.
'The local people have, for all my life, been extremely supportive of me and my golf,' said Palmer, who is building a house near Laurel Valley. 'What can you say after you shoot the kind of scores I shot? I did play one good hole and that was it. So that gives me a license to play another round some time.'
Now that Palmer completed his two rounds, the focus shifts back to the tournament and Pate, who is searching for his first win on the Champions Tour since joining the circuit last year.
Pate began on the back nine Friday and bogeyed the 12th when he three-putted from 45 feet. He reclaimed the lost stroke at the 15th, but it didn't look like a birdie was coming. Pate drove into a bunker, then hit a 7-iron to 60 feet, where he sank the birdie putt. He made it two in a row with another long putt, but found trouble at the par-5 18th.
His drive landed in the fairway, but he hit a 4-iron into the wind from 175 yards. Pate hit 'absolutely the worst shot I think I've ever hit in my professional career' and came up short of the lake. His third went through the green and he walked off with a bogey.
Pate calmed down on his second nine and rolled in an 8-foot birdie putt at the third. He reached the green in two at the par-5 sixth and left his 30-foot eagle putt on the edge. He tapped in and kicked off a run of golf that jumped him to the top of the leaderboard.
At the seventh, Pate hit a 9-iron 20 feet short of the hole and converted the birdie putt. He birdied the difficult, par-3 eighth to reach 6 under par and take the lead.
'The golf course played difficult if you didn't hit good shots and if you hit good shots, there were holes you could make birdies on,' said Pate, who won the 1976 U.S. Open. 'I've been the leader in enough tournaments to know you got to play one shot at a time.'
Pate has not won since the 1982 Players Championship, but has been close on the Champions Tour. He has nine top-10s on the 50-and-over tour, including two this year, and is ready to return to the winner's circle.
'Although I haven't been in the lead in a long time it's still the same game,' said Pate. 'It's the same process. Just have to play your game. And for me I have to be patient and calm and swing slow.'
Eaks played poorly to start his round with four bogeys in his first five holes. He drew even on his round with four birdies in a five-hole span from the sixth, then played smart golf down the stretch to grab second place.
At the 15th, a hole he bogeyed on Thursday, Eaks hit a 9-iron to 15 feet and drained the birdie putt. He polished off his round of 70 with a birdie at the last.
'Overall I'm pleased as punch with that round,' said Eaks, a three-time winner on the Nationwide Tour. 'That was a good comeback. Stuck in there and at least I got it setup for the weekend.'
Dave Barr (72), Tom McKnight (72) and Hajime Meshiai (71) are tied for fifth place at 3-under-par 141.
First-round leader Graham Marsh (74), 1995 champion Ray Floyd (72), reigning U.S. Senior Open champion Peter Jacobsen (71) and MasterCard Championship winner Dana Quigley (71) share eighth at minus-2.
Defending champion and four-time winner Hale Irwin dropped four shots over his last six holes to shoot a 3-over 75. He is part of a group tied for 13th at even-par 144 that includes Tom Kite, Mark James and Tom Purtzer.
The 36-hole cut fell at 6-over-par 150 and among the notable players who will be absent on the weekend are: Jay Haas (151), 2003 winner John Jacobs (153), Gary Player (155) and 2002 champion Fuzzy Zoeller (155).
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    Winning on Kerr's mind this week and beyond

    By Randall MellMarch 24, 2018, 2:11 am

    Cristie Kerr moved into position Friday to do more than win the 21st LPGA title of her career.

    She moved into position to claim an LPGA Hall of Fame point this week.

    Yes, winning is foremost on her mind at the Kia Classic, where she took the lead with an 8-under-par 64 in the second round, she’s on a larger quest, too.

    After turning 40 last fall, Kerr was asked what her goals are.

    “The Hall of Fame is attainable, if I stick with it,” she said.

    Kerr is five shots ahead of Lizette Salas (67), In-Kyung Kim (69), Hee Young Park (70) and Caroline Hedwall (70).

    It’s a good time for Kerr to get on a hot streak, with the year’s first major championship, the ANA Inspiration, next week. She has long been one of the best putters in the women’s game, but her ball-striking is impressive this week. She hit 17 greens in regulation Thursday, and she hit 16 on Friday.

    “I like winning,” Kerr said. “I like challenging myself. Definitely doesn't get any easier as you get older, with the travel and recovery time. I got up this morning and I'm like, `Man, why does my hamstring hurt?’ From working around this hilly golf course.”

    Kerr acknowledged Friday that her body is more vulnerable to time’s realities, but her mind isn’t.

    Full-field scores from the Kia Classic

    “The golf ball doesn't know an age,” Kerr said. “I've always said that. As long as I stay hungry, going to just keep playing.”

    Kerr won two weeks after her 40th birthday last fall, boosting her LPGA Hall of Fame point total to 22. She is five points short of eligibility for induction. A player earns one point for an LPGA victory and two points for a major championship title. So there’s a lot of Hall of Fame ground to gain this week and next.

    It’s a long-term goal that motivates Kerr to take care of her body.

    “I don't think the golf changes,” Kerr said. “I think, physically, it gets harder as you get older. Like I said, I've got tape on my hamstring. I strained it, just a little bit yesterday, walking around this golf course. It's tough as you get older, just being fresh and rested. I put more focus into that as I've gotten older. I still practice, but off the course I try to get more rest.”

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    Big names chasing Kerr into the weekend at Kia Classic

    By Associated PressMarch 24, 2018, 1:55 am

    CARLSBAD, Calif. - Cristie Kerr shot an 8-under 64 on Friday in the Kia Classic to take a five-stroke lead into the weekend.

    The 40-year-old Kerr had eight birdies in her second straight bogey-free round to reach 13-under 131 at rain-softened Aviara.

    ''I like winning. I like challenging myself,'' Kerr said. ''Definitely doesn't get any easier as you get older with the travel and recovery time. I got up this morning and I'm like, 'Man, why does my hamstring hurt?' From working around this hilly golf course. The golf ball doesn't know an age. I've always said that. As long as I stay hungry, going to just keep playing.''

    She has 20 LPGA victories, winning at Aviara in 2015. She won twice last year and helped the U.S. beat Europe in her ninth Solheim Cup appearance.

    ''It's tough as you get older just being fresh and rested,'' Kerr said. ''I put more focus into that as I've gotten older. I still practice, but off the course I try to get more rest.''

    Lizette Salas, In-Kyung Kim, Hee Young Park and Caroline Hedwall were tied for second. Salas shot 67, Kim 69, and Park and Hedwall 70.

    ''I really like this golf course. I really like the environment,'' said Salas, the former University of Southern California player from Azusa. ''My family gets to come out. So much confidence at the beginning of the week, and definitely showed the first two days.

    Jeong Eun Lee was 7 under after a 69, and defending ANA champion So Yeon Ryu had a 70 to get to 6 under.

    Full-field scores from the Kia Classic

    Ariya Jutanugarn (72), Brooke Henderson (70) and 2016 winner Lydia Ko (71) were 5 under. Shanshan Feng (68) was another stroke back, and Singapore winner Michelle Wie (72) was 1 under.

    Lexi Thompson was 2 over after a 74, making the cut on the number in the final event before the major ANA Inspiration next week at Mission Hills.

    Kerr opened with birdies on the par-5 10th and par-3 11th, added birdies on the par-4 16th, 18th and second, and ran off three in a row on the par-3 sixth, par-4 seventh and par-5 eighth.

    ''I don't think you can fall asleep on one shot,'' Kerr said. ''It's a really good golf course. I think I play better on courses that demand the focus, so I think that's why I've played well here in the past. ... I'm trying not to put limits on myself right now. I've got some good things going on with my swing.''

    She has long been one best putters and green-readers in the world.

    ''I can see the subtleties that a lot of people can't,'' Kerr said. ''It's a gift from God being able to do that. I've always had that, so I'm lucky.''

    Laura Davies withdrew after an opening 82. The 54-year-old Davies tied for second last week in the Founders Cup in Phoenix, playing through painful left Achilles and calf problems.

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    DJ hits 489-yard drive, but it doesn't count for history

    By Rex HoggardMarch 24, 2018, 12:22 am

    AUSTIN, Texas – Dustin Johnson is no stranger to big drives, but even for DJ this one was impressive.

    Trailing in his Day 3 match at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, Johnson launched a drive at the par-5 12th hole that traveled 489 yards, but that number comes with an asterisk.

    “He got lucky it hit the road,” smiled Kevin Kisner, who was leading the world No. 1, 3 up, at the time. “I thought he would make an eagle for sure, he only had 80 yards [to the hole]. He didn’t hit a very good putt.”

    WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play: Full bracket | Scoring | Group standings

    WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play: Articles, photos and videos

    Johnson’s drive, which was 139 yards past Kisner’s tee shot, is the longest recorded on the PGA Tour in the ShotLink era, surpassing Davis Love III’s drive of 476 yards in 2004 at the Tournament of Champions.

    The drive will not go into the record books, however, because the Tour doesn’t count statistics from the Match Play.

    It should also be noted, Kisner halved the 12th hole with a birdie and won the match, 4 and 3, to advance to the round of 16.

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    Durant leads Champions event in Mississippi

    By Associated PressMarch 24, 2018, 12:21 am

    BILOXI, Miss. - Joe Durant had three straight birdies in a back-nine burst and a shot 6-under 66 on Friday to take the first-round lead in the PGA Tour Champions' Rapiscan Systems Classic.

    Durant birdied the par-4 11th and 12th and par-5 13th in the bogey-free round at breezy and rain-softened Fallen Oak. Because of the wet conditions, players were allowed to lift, clean and place their golf balls in the fairway.

    ''It just sets up nice to my eye,'' Durant said. ''It's a beautiful golf course and it's very challenging. The tee shots seem to set up well for me, but the greens are maybe as quick as I've ever seen them here. You really have to put the ball in the right spots. I played very nice today. With the wind swirling like it was, I'm really happy.''

    He won the Chubb Classic last month in Naples, Florida, for his third victory on the 50-and-over tour.

    Full-field scores from the Rapiscan Systems Classic

    ''Done this long enough, Friday's just one day,'' Durant said. ''Especially in a three-day tournament, you've got to go out and shoot three good numbers. Fortunate to put one on the board, but I know I have to back it up with a couple of good days because you can get passed very quickly out here.''

    Mark Calcavecchia was a stroke back. He won last month in Boca Raton, Florida

    ''It's probably my best round I've ever had here and it was a tough day to play,'' Calcavecchia said. ''The greens are just lightning fast. They're pretty slopey greens, so very difficult to putt.''

    Steve Stricker was third at 68. He took the Tucson, Arizona, event three weeks ago for his first senior victory.

    ''Just getting it around and managing my game I think like I always do,'' Stricker said. ''You get in the wrong position here with the greens being so fast and you're going to be in trouble. I did that a couple times today.''

    Billy Mayfair, Billy Andrade and David McKenzie shot 69. Jerry Kelly, the winner of the season-opening event in Hawaii, was at 70 with Wes Short Jr., Glen Day, Gene Sauers and Jesper Parnevik.

    Bernhard Langer opened with a 71, and two-time defending champion Miguel Angel Jimenez had a 72.

    Vijay Singh, coming off his first senior victory two weeks ago in Newport Beach, California, had a 73.