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Watson 54-hole leader
Kohler, Wis. – Tom Watson showed impeccable touch on the 18th hole, placing a chip within four feet of the hole. Watson made the putt for par and will enter the final round with a three stroke lead at seven under par.
Watson will play with a familiar face tomorrow; his fellow competitor will be the same as today. Loren Roberts tapped in for par on No. 18. He is at 4-under 212.
Kohler, Wis. – For those watching on TV wondering why Loren Roberts was able to remove sand in the bunker to find his ball, see Rule 12-1 in the Rules of Golf. In a hazard, if a ball is believed to be covered by loose impediments or sand, the player may remove by probing or raking with a club or otherwise, as many loose impediments or as much sand as will enable him to see a part of the ball.
Kohler, Wis. – Tom Watson, using a hybrid, hit his tee shot to about eight feet, hole high on the par-3 17th. The hole is listed with two distances, 216 and 190 yards. Today the distance is 219, but playing longer with the wind.
Weibring, Purtzer meet in middle
Kohler, Wis. – D.A. Weibring posted three over par on the front side. Weibring played the back side at even par, and was one-over total, until a birdie on No. 18.
Tom Purtzer made a two birdies on the back, at one point moving to five-under total, before making three bogeys, including one on No. 18.
Both Weibring and Purtzer are tied at 2-under, 214 for the championship.
Woodward hanging tough
Kohler, Wis. – Jim Woodward continues to hang near the top of the leaderboard. He placed his tee shot on the front-right part of No. 17 green and two putted for par. He is in a six-way tie for 2nd at 3-under.
Purtzer going south (figuratively and literally)
Kohler, Wis. – Tom Purtzer bogeyed No. 15 after his par attempt missed by five feet. His tee shot on the par-3 17th was short and right of the green. Purtzer’s second shot skidded about 18 feet beyond the hole. He missed the par putt and bogeyed.
Nos. 15, 16, and 17 face south, the direction that the wind is coming from. With strong gusts, the holes are playing extremely difficult.
Tie at the top
Kohler, Wis. – Loren Roberts hit his shot from the intermediate cut of rough to about 20 feet on No. 14. Roberts then made the putt to tie Tom Watson for the lead at six under.
Watson looked as though he would reclaim the lead immediately. He had a four foot putt for birdie, but left it just short.
Crenshaw back to four
Kohler, Wis.- Ben Crenshaw hit a solid approach to No. 14. He had an eight foot, left to right putt for birdie, and sank it with ease. Crenshaw is now just two back.
Watson makes great up and down, Torrance finishes
Kohler, Wis. – Tom Watson’s tee shot on the par-3 12th sailed long and well below the elevated green. Watson chipped up to two feet and made his par putt.
Sam Torrance made a par on his final hole, and finished the day with a 1-under 71. Torrance is one of five players tied for 5th place.
Purtzer pars, Roberts birdies
Kohler, Wis. – Tom Purtzer, one stroke behind leader Tom Watson, left a birdie putt from the fringe well short. Purtzer made the par attempt.
Loren Roberts played a chip within six feet of the hole on No. 11. He made the birdie putt.
Both Purtzer and Roberts are just one stroke behind Watson.
Watson reclaims lead, Roberts, Crenshaw fall
Kohler, Wis. – Tom Watson made his birdie attempt at No. 10 and regained the lead.
Meanwhile, the No. 10 fairway bunker caused problems for Loren Roberts. He did not reach the green with his second shot, then failed to get up and down. He moves back to three under.
Ben Crenshaw missed a three foot putt on No. 11 green, lipping it out, to make a bogey. He is tied with Roberts at three over.
Wind wreaking havoc
Kohler, Wis. – The early groups had a decided advantage over those still on the golf course. The wind has picked up considerably, with gusts at 20-25 mph.
Final group turns, Roberts ties lead
Kohler, Wis. – Loren Roberts moved within one of Tom Watson. Roberts played his second shot from the fairway past the hole, then made a twenty foot putt.
Watson was forced to play short of the green on the ninth hole because of a poor tee shot. His pitch went long, and he missed the six foot putt coming back. Watson is three over today.
Torrance on a terror
Kohler, Wis. – Sam Torrance is now three under on the back nine. Torrance spun his second shot from the fairway to six feet and made the putt. Torrance is all alone in second place at five under par.
Fernandez, Crenshaw turn
Kohler, Wis. - Vicente Fernandez missed a six foot, left to right putt on the low side of the hole and fell back to three under.
Ben Crenshaw again played short to the ninth green, pitched on, and made a three foot putt for par.
Kohler, Wis. - Let's hear it for the first-timers.
Upon completion of the Senior Open's weather-delayed first round, three of the top seven players on the leaderboard were making their championship debut.
Anyone would be hard-pressed to tell as Jim Woodward (5-under 67), Bruce Vaughan (4-under 68) and Ron Vlosich (3-under 69) performed like seasoned veterans. They all trailed leader Eduardo Romero, who scorched The Straits Course Thursday with a 6-under 66.
|Gil Morgan, one of 78 players that had to complete his first round Friday, finished 3-under 69. (John Mummert/USGA)
With the exception of Vlosich, half the field had to complete their first rounds Friday morning after a vicious storm ripped through Whistling Straits Thursday evening.
When players were pulled off the course, Vaughan (10 holes) and Woodward (nine holes) were three under. The scoreboard tightened a little more with Woodward turning in his 67 and Vaughan recording the 68, followed by three players - Vlosich, Vincente Fernandez and Jon Fiedler - at three under. Nineteen players were in the red after the first round.
A bogey on the 18
thdropped Vlosich - a retired golf pro - back from four under par, while Fiedler, who qualified for the event, needed only 26 putts. The 50-year-old Vlosich, like Woodward, is appearing in his first Senior Open.
"I wasn't sure what was going to happen [Thursday], to be honest with you" said Vlosich, who struck half his fairways in regulation. "I knew I could put a good score up if I could put the ball in the fairway with the driver."
The last time Jim Woodward appeared in any kind of Open was 17 years ago.
Woodward, 50, had started the round on the 10
thtee. He made a gallant charge toward Romero by registering an eagle and birdie as he made the turn. Two more birdies on the backside left him within striking distance. Woodward last played in an Open in 1990 - that being the Canadian Open, where he finished runner-up. In 1987, at The Olympic Club, Woodward tied for 17
thin the U.S. Open.
The 50-year-old Vaughan, also a first-time participant in the Senior Open, stayed consistent throughout, carding five birdies and 12 pars. He played one year on the PGA Tour.
Still, none of them seemed frazzled to be competing against some of the Champion Tour's biggest stars. It didn't faze them that players like Loren Roberts (2-under 70), Tom Watson (2-under 70), Jay Haas (1-over 73) and defending champion Allen Doyle (11-over 83) were in the field. Or, on the surface, it didn't appear that way.
"It's fantastic," said Vlosich, who played in the 1982 U.S. Open and 1989 PGA Championship. "It really is. â€¦ It's a pleasure to play in a tournament like this. That's for sure."
Ken Klavon is the USGA Web Editor. E-mail him with questions or comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.