U.S. SENIOR OPEN
Kelly Retains Lead With Jimenez, Other Stars in Pursuit
June 29, 2018 | Colorado Springs, Colo.
By Ron Driscoll, USGA
Jerry Kelly followed up an opening round of 66 with a 1-under-par 69 on Friday to retain the lead after 36 holes of the 39th U.S. Senior Open Championship at The Broadmoor.
Kelly’s two-stroke lead from Thursday was whittled by one as Miguel Angel Jimenez, who played alongside Kelly the first two days, added a second straight 2-under 68. The Spaniard, who finished second in this championship in 2016, hit 17 of 18 greens in a bogey-free round on Friday.
Kelly actually fell into a tie for the lead with Jimenez at 3 under after he bogeyed the par-4 17th hole, but he chipped in for birdie on No. 18, the group’s ninth hole.
“I made a tough bogey on No. 17, and then I was in the middle of the fairway on 18, with an easy 8-iron in and I pushed it to the right,” said Kelly, 51, a native of Madison, Wis. “That bothered me going back-to-back, so I knew I had to pull something out. And the chip came out just perfect and rolled right in and that got things going again.”
Kelly retained the advantage the rest of the way, with Jimenez’s second birdie of the day – on the par-5 ninth, which played as the easiest hole for the day – putting him within one stroke entering Round 3.
“I’m happy with my game,” said Jimenez, 54, who hit only nine greens in Round 1 but fashioned an identical score. “I played very solid, and the only thing I hope for the weekend is to hit the ball that way and hole some more putts.”
Tim Petrovic, who played college golf with Kelly at the University of Hartford, shot the low round for the championship, a 5-under 65, to finish 36 holes alone in third place at 3-under 137. Petrovic, 51 and playing in his first U.S. Senior Open, made the turn at 3 over for the championship, but reeled off six birdies in his final eight holes.
Another two strokes back are five players at 1-under 139, including Davis Love III, who is making his debut in this championship at age 54. The 1997 PGA champion is joined by Jay Haas, who chipped in for eagle on his final hole; Paul Goydos, who had a birdie-eagle-birdie run midway through his incoming nine highlighted by a 127-yard hole-out on the par-4 14th; Philip Golding, of England, who carded a morning 67; and Deane Pappas, of South Africa.
Kirk Triplett, the runner-up to Kenny Perry in 2017, is alone in ninth place at even par, rebounding with a Friday 66 after an opening-round 74. Two-time champion Perry slipped to a 4-over 74 in Round 2 and is tied for 32nd through 36 holes at 5-over 145.
HartfordMGolf alums Jerry Kelly (bottom row, 2nd from right) and Tim Petrovic (top row, 2nd from left) are in 1st and 3rd place after 2 rounds of US Senior Open! #FlashbackFriday https://t.co/fGD5wCkeBl @HartfordHawks @jerrykelly13pga @SwinginBucket @pattytuesday #CapitalCityTeam pic.twitter.com/wiISSqnVjU— HartfordMGolf (@HartfordMGolf) June 30, 2018
Par-3 Fourth Hole Challenges Field on Friday
The fourth hole on The Broadmoor’s East Course played at 170 yards in Round 2, to a hole location that didn’t exist when the championship was played here in 2008. The back-right portion of the green had been expanded ahead of this year on an already daunting, back-to-front sloping putting surface designed by Donald Ross.
Players had trouble throughout the day as the prevailing wind pushed shots from right to left, away from the hole, and it played as by far the toughest for the day. In fact, its 3.71 stroke average is the toughest stroke average for a hole in the Senior Open since the par-4 eighth hole at Scioto Country Club played to a 4.73 average in Round 1 of the 2016 championship. The hole played as the most difficult par 3 since at least 2013, with the next-toughest being No. 17 at Scioto in Round 3 in 2016 (3.57).
Amateur Funk Makes Cut for Second Year in a Row
Robby Funk, of Redlands, Calif., the low amateur in last year’s U.S. Senior Open at Salem Country Club, is again vying for the honor. He made the cut on the number, 8-over 148, and was joined by a pair of fellow amateurs in making weekend play, both of whom finished 36 holes at 7-over 147. Mike Finster, of St. Petersburg, Fla., is now two for three, having made the cut in the 2015 championship, while Jeff Wilson, of Vallejo, Calif., made the 36-hole cut for the second time in four starts.
Potential Weather on Saturday Moves Up Start
The starting times for Saturday’s Round 3 of the championship have been adjusted one hour earlier due to projected inclement weather, which also affects the times for live programming. Fox Sports will have TV coverage from 3-8 p.m. EDT (1-6 p.m. MDT). In addition, live streaming of the David Toms/Kirk Triplett group will begin at 3:05 p.m. EDT on ussenioropen.com.
Miguel Angel Jimenez, on playing in the afternoon on Thursday and morning on Friday:
“To me I would prefer to play late/early always. Because when you start late, you finish, shower, dinner, wake up, go compete again. When you play in the morning, you play in the morning, all the afternoon do nothing, just practicing, thinking. Next day, all morning, do nothing but thinking. And then play. The gap is too big. I prefer late/early.”
Davis Love III, looking ahead to the weekend in his first Senior Open:
“I would like to swing a little smoother. I’m still a little jumpy, get a little quick every once in a while. I hit some really, really good ones and then once in a while I’ll hit one that's really bad, a little tight. I had four or five weeks off and it’s a little bit of anxiousness. When you put USGA in front of an event, the nerves go up a little bit. When it’s U.S. Open rough, the nerves go up a little bit.”
Paul Goydos, on starting bogey-double bogey, then turning his round around:
“Holing it out, there's a lot of luck involved with that. Having said that, I couldn’t hit a better tee shot, couldn't hit the 9-iron any more solid than I did. Now you get the attitude, wait a minute, things are going my way again. There was a little bit of a roller coaster there because I was teaching my caddie some new words on the 12th tee. Then you're the happiest guy in the world on the 16th tee. It happens in golf. But not in a major championship, not on a golf course this hard.”
John Smoltz, who shot 77 on Friday after opening with an 85 on Thursday:
“I was much better, patient, and didn’t get as frustrated, but I’ll never forget this experience. I plan on being back. I plan on qualifying again. And I think that I could do some different things with my time off and get back in the gym and get back in shape. I learned a lot, that I’m not in the kind of shape I need to be in to play this kind of golf. I thought I was.”
Hall of Fame pitcher Smoltz, on how hard it was to compete in a major championship:
“Transferring from starter to closer was a huge, huge hurdle to overcome. But this was probably the hardest thing I’ve ever done because nothing I’m doing prepares me for this. I played with a lot of these great players casually. But when you’re under the gun and in extreme conditions and an unbelievable golf course, you can't imagine what your heart rate’s like. I’m so disappointed that I never got constantly in tune with my swing. And my swing was really good coming here.”
Ron Driscoll is the senior manager of editorial services for the USGA. Email him at email@example.com.