EVENT #11 OAKMONT GERNEY TOUR SECOND ROUND
As if hard, slick greens weren’t enough, for the first time in the ten rounds played among the three tours so far at Oakmont, the wind was up. Scores, too–to the tune of three strokes (71 aggregate in the first round vs. 74 today). The round one leader still leads while the duo in second dropped off and two other guys just shattered the grading curve.
Dow Finsterwald, he of the 7-under 63 yesterday, maintained that 7-under with an even-par 70. And, with the top guys either maintaining or dropping off, that 70 was good enough to maintain a two-shot edge at the halfway point.
Finsterwald started out well enough, birdieing one after flirting with the fairway bunkers on the left then landing safely on the green in regulation and dropping a 16 footer his three. But the wind, combined with “tomorrow’s another day, made almost certain that the birdie, as well as yesterday’s 16 greens in regulation, were in Finsterwald’s rear view mirror. His bogey at the 593 yard par five fourth came as his approach from 60 yards flew the green and he just missed on his eight-footer for par. Finsterwald birdied the par three sixth for the second straight day. Playing at 185, a 7-iron and a 14 foot putt was good for a two. But he gave that stroke back at the next hole when he missed the fairway left with his drive and missed the green left on his approach, unable to get up and down as his pitch and run ran right through the green. Yesterday, Finsterwald was faced with only two scramble opportunities thanks to hitting all those greens in regulation. Today, he was faced with ten, converting on eight, still mighty impressive. But, eventually missing those greens catches up. Still, Finsterwald finished with eleven consecutive pars, six on scrambles–maybe seven as he two-putted from the fringe at eighteen. Technically, he was off the green when he hit his third, so…
One of the curve busters was Jack Nicklaus with a 66. Old Tom Morris also was eight strokes better than average today. No one else was within three of those two.
For Nicklaus, his 66 zoomed him into second, two shots back, and he’ll be staring down Finsterwald in the third round tomorrow. Like Finsterwald, the wind got Nicklaus a bit, though he was able to compensate that much better. 16 greens yesterday vs. 12 today. But Nicklaus converted on all six scrambles and therefore avoided the bogeyman. His birdie at three was mighty impressive. It started with a visit to the Church Pews then a flyer which stopped on the back fringe. From 43 feet, Nicklaus took out the flat blade and drained it. He parred out the rest of the front side then started the back side by short-siding himself on his approach but still landing pin high and dropping in a no-doubter for birdie (both birdie putts came on results of “1”). Nicklaus then posted back-to-back birdies at fourteen and fifteen–fourteen on an approach out of the fairway bunker to 21 feet and another long distance putt (only a result of “3” this time) while, at fifteen, Nicklaus backed down to a 3-metal off the tee, leaving himself 234 in on the 501 yard par four. All he did was park a 4-iron within four feet of the hole. Pars the rest of the way, though not easy, by any stretch (bunker off the tee on the par three sixteenth then still facing 21 feet off the fringe for par and another “1,” two-putt par on seventeen and a long greenside bunker shot to two feet at the last), as Nicklaus finished with a 66.
In New Jersey, we shoot bears.
In Pennsylvania, they beat you up
on the golf course.
Tom Watson and Willie Campbell shot 64s yesterday. Today, it was 73s. That left them in a foursome at 3-under 137, four shots back. Watson had a birdie-free round, though he did manage to scramble nicely, converting on six of seven. However, he walked off eighteen with a bogey after missing a four-footer for par. Campbell managed to squeeze two birdies into his round, including at eighteen for the second straight day as he made his four-footer. But he was only able to scramble successfully half the time (4/8) and it cost him.
Old Tom Morris is the third member of the foursome at 3-under. As mentioned and like Nicklaus, he also shot a 66. Morris didn’t start out well at all, almost shanking his tee shot into traffic on Hulton Rd. but managing to stay in play. Finally hitting the green in four, Morris made double. But the highlight of his day started at ten. Yesterday, Morris double bogeyed that after playing army golf. Today, he cut that in half, making birdie three thanks to a 5-iron approach to three feet. Then, nine feet for birdie at eleven, five feet at twelve and Morris followed that by chipping in for birdie from 25 feet at the par three thirteenth.
The fourth golfer at 3-under is Retief Goosen. Goosen had a good day–better than most–hitting thirteen greens and failing to get up and down only once. Unfortunately, that one cost him an extra stroke as, at the 484 yard seventh, Goosen drove into the bunker, missed left on his approach but had a good line and a lot of green to chip with. But he misjudged the speed of the green and left his chip 13 feet short then three-putted for a double. But his two birdies were impressive. Church Pews off the tee at four and a second that still left him 185. All he did was park a 5-iron to five feet. And, at fifteen, Goosen sank a 36-footer for birdie three.
ROUNDING OUT THE TOP TEN:
We’ve got the first six. And, in a five-way tie for seventh at -2 are: Ralph Guldahl (69 today), Byron Nelson, Ted Kroll and Gary Player (all at 70) and Willie Park Sr. (71).
SHOT OF THE DAY:
Kenny Perry at eleven. Turned out to be his only under par hole for the day in a mediocre round of 73. Perry bogeyed the hole yesterday after hitting the fairway with a 3-metal. Today, for whatever reason, he dialed it down to a 3-iron, and took aim from 129 with a full pitching wedge. His ball checked up then backed up and rolled in for an eagle two.
I HOPE TOMORROW ISN’T AN 85:
Mark Hayes shot a 65 on day one. Today, he couldn’t buy a birdie–not even rent one–and shot 75. The sum total of that is even par 140 leaving him in a six-way tie for fifteenth.
THE CUT LINE:
+6 with 81 making it. Shot under par yesterday and still missed: George Archer and Billy Ray Brown, both 69-78. Some who missed the boat this week: Doug Ford and Miller Barber (both +7), KJ Choi and Vijay Singh (+8), Ernie Els and Jim Furyk (+9), Johnny Miller (+10) and David Duval (+11).