Lake Orion, Mich. – It would be understandable if Corey Pavin were disappointed by his position on the leaderboard heading into the weekend at the U.S. Senior Open.
Instead, the 1995 U.S. Open champion plays golf with a broken rearview mirror. He knows how to move on and forget the previous round. Well, actually, he forgets the parts that have no discernable purpose.
One day after having to tack on penalty strokes for causing his ball to move before a pitch shot, Pavin bounced back admirably, shooting a 1-under-par 69, and assembling a solid 4-under 136 total through 36 holes of the 33rd U.S. Senior Open at Indianwood Golf & Country Club.
“I'm certainly in a good spot,” said Pavin, 52. “I think anywhere near the hunt going into the weekend is a good spot.”
Pavin briefly held the lead alone Friday morning at 6 under par when he birdied Nos. 10 and 11 on Indianwood’s intriguing Old Course. However, bogeys at 13 and 18 dropped him behind first-round leader Tom Kite. The day prior Pavin dropped two shots at the end, but that hiccup came after he had holed out for a 65 that equaled Kite’s opening round.
After the round, Pavin watched a slow-motion replay of his pitch shot from the rough at the par-4 fifth hole with Rules officials, and he saw that he had moved his ball a fraction at address. He was assessed a two-stroke penalty for violation of Rule 18-2a, and he signed for a 67.
You wouldn’t blame him for wanting to put it behind him.
“I didn't want to put yesterday behind me,” said Pavin, who has finished in ties for 20th and seventh place in his previous U.S. Senior Open starts. “I played well yesterday. That's the way I was looking at it. So I just wanted to go out and play good again today and actually played better from tee to green than I did yesterday. I was happy about that.
“The putter got a little cool in the middle of the round, but made some good putts still. Pretty solid round of golf out there.”
A winner of his first Champions Tour victory earlier this year at the Allianz Championship, Pavin was asked again later in his post-round interview about overcoming Thursday’s penalty.
“I'm not sure what you're referring to,” he said with a wide smile, drawing laughs. “You know, to me, it's no big deal. It's something that happened, and it's the Rules of Golf. It was very easy to see on replay that the ball moved a fraction, just a fraction. It's a two‑stroke penalty, and that's it. Didn't change anything of what I did yesterday. I like the way I played yesterday. It was over the second I saw the tape. It was done. So it was time to get ready for today.”
He was ready. But his golf game has been in prime shape recently, and he’s coming off a tie for ninth place at last week’s Nature Valley First Tee Open at Pebble Beach.
“I've been playing pretty well the last couple weeks and haven't really felt like I've gotten very much out of it,” he said. “My scoring hasn't been very good. So scoring is a little bit better this week for me, and I'm happy about that.”
It could be even better, but as Pavin will aver, there’s no sense dwelling on that.
Dave Shedloski is an Ohio-based freelance writer whose work has previously appeared on USGA websites.