Kite Rides Record Low, Leads Senior Open

Tom Kite took 25 putts en route to shooting 5-under 65. (John Mummert/USGA)
By Stuart Hall
July 12, 2012

Lake Orion, Mich. – Peter Jacobsen was in Tom Kite’s first-round U.S. Senior Open grouping on Thursday, but in presence only.

“I felt like the Washington Generals playing the Harlem Globetrotters,” Jacobsen said. “I was his towel boy.”

Kite opened this 33rd Senior Open at Indianwood Golf & Country Club with a USGA Open championship record 7-under-par 28 en route to a 5-under 65 that was the best of the morning groupings.

“If you play well, there are some opportunities out there,” Kite said. “But I certainly didn't see any 28s or anything like that. That front nine was a pretty incredible nine holes of golf.”

More like historic.

The 28 is one stroke better than the previous record of 29 recorded four times – by Neal Lancaster twice (1995, U.S. Open, Shinnecock Hills Golf Club; 1996, U.S. Open, Oakland Hills Country Club), by Vijay Singh (2003, U.S. Open, Olympia Fields Country Club), and by defending Senior Open champion Olin Browne, on the second nine of his third round en route to victory last year at Inverness Club.

Kite’s opening nine included five birdies and an eagle – a 155-yard, 8-iron approach to a blind hole location on the 434-yard, par-4 fourth hole. His five birdie putts were between 12 and 18 feet, and four of the putts came from ideal positions on the green – below the hole.

Kite, 62, quickly took his place among the field on the more difficult back nine, recording seven straight pars before a double bogey on the 194-yard, par-3 17th hole. He also made an up-and-down par from about 40 feet on the 18th hole.

“I thought there would be some 65s, 66s, 67s shot this week,” said Kite, the 1992 U.S. Open champion who is seeking his first senior version in his 13 starts. “It's going to be difficult to do it four days in a row. This golf course has enough bite in it that it's not going to let the same person get it every day, for sure.”

Kite’s 65 led 10 under-par rounds from the morning groupings, and was just one stroke better than Lance Ten Broeck, who is making his first U.S. Senior Open appearance. Tom Pernice Jr. shot a 3-under 67, while Mark Calcavecchia and Damon Green were at 2-under 68.

Jacobsen, the 2004 U.S. Senior Open champion who shot an even-par 70, watched as Kite hit range balls prior to a ninth-place finish at last week’s Champions Tour event, the Nature Valley First Tee Open at Pebble Beach. Jacobsen liked what he saw then and again today, but was equally impressed by Kite’s putting.

“Tom putted as well with the long putter today as I've seen him in five or six years he's used that putter,” said Jacobsen of Kite’s 25-putt round. “He was confident. He stepped up to every putt and he was very assertive. He had great speed.

“The two‑putt he had on 18 was amazing. He had to go over one of those muffins and knocked it down about 4 feet and confidently knocked it in.”

Kite, who only had one top-10 Champions Tour finish prior to last week at Pebble Beach, said his swing had been out of sorts this season, but has progressed of late.

“I'm not sure it's back where it totally needs to be yet, but it's moving in the right direction,” he said.

If it gets much better, he may threaten his new record.

Stuart Hall is a North Carolina-based freelance writer whose work has appeared previously on USGA websites. 


Follow the USGA
Become a Facebook Fan of the USGAFollow us on Twitter @usopengolf
World Amateur Golf Ranking
WAGR Counting Event
Partner Links
AmEx image
AmEx image
AmEx image
AmEx image

The USGA and Chevron have committed to using the game of golf to encourage students in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) disciplines. This commitment has led to the creation of extensive golf-focused STEM teaching tools, and has resulted in charitable contributions to support golf-related programs through Eagles for Education™

At U.S. Open Championships the Chevron STEM ZONE™ is an interactive experience highlighting the science and math behind the game of golf through a variety of hands-on exhibits and experiments.

The partnership has also produced educational materials such as the Science of Golf video series and a nationally-distributed newspaper insert which are provided to teachers as tools to enhance existing curriculum in schools. These lessons teach the science behind the USGA’s equipment testing, handicapping, and agronomy efforts.

For more interactive experiences featuring golf-focused STEM lessons, visit the partnership homepage.

Chevron image

Rolex has been a longtime supporter of the USGA and salutes the sportsmanship and great traditions unique to the game. This support includes the Rules of Golf where Rolex has partnered with the USGA to ensure golfers understand and appreciate the game.

As the official timekeeper of the USGA and its championships, they also provide clocks throughout host sites for spectator convenience.

For more information on Rolex and their celebration of the game, visit the Rolex and Golf homepage.

Rolex image

IBM has partnered with the USGA to bring the same technology, expertise, and innovation it provides to businesses all over the world to the USGA and golf's national championship.

IBM provides the information technology to develop and host the U.S. Open’s official website,, as well as the mobile apps and scoring systems for the three U.S. Open championships. These real-time technology solutions provide an enhanced experience for fans following the championship onsite and online.

For more information on IBM and the technology that powers the U.S. Open and businesses worldwide, visit

AmEx image

Lexus is committed to partnering with the USGA to deliver a best-in-class experience for the world’s best golfers by providing a fleet of courtesy luxury vehicles for all USGA Championships.

At each U.S. Open, Women’s Open and Senior Open, Lexus provides spectators with access to unique experiences ranging from the opportunity to have a picture taken with both the U.S. Open and U.S. Women’s Open trophies to autograph signings with legendary Lexus Golf Ambassadors in the Lexus Performance Drive Pavilion.

For more information on Lexus, visit

AmEx image
American Express

Together, American Express and the USGA have been providing world-class service to golf fans since 2006. By creating interactive U.S. Open experiences both onsite and online, American Express enhances the USGA’s effort to make the game more accessible and enjoyable for fans.

For more information on American Express visit

AmEx image