Originally created 06/29/02

Hall shoots 65 for lead in U.S. Senior Open



OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- Walter Hall barely feels like he belongs at the U.S. Senior Open.

"You've got some of the greatest ball strikers that have ever played in this tournament," he said. "I'm fortunate to be playing with them."

That might be true, but after two rounds, Hall's place among all those prominent golfers is on the top of the leaderboard.

He shot a 6-under-par 65 Friday to take a one-shot lead over Tom Kite and Jose Maria Canizares at the midway point of the $2.5 million tournament. It was his first sub-70 score in 14 rounds at the U.S. Senior Open.

"I probably won't ever do it again, but I sure had my day in the sun today," Hall said. "This was my Tom Kite imitation today."

Kite, one of the heavyweights on the senior tour, shot a 67 for a 6-under 136 total.

E.W. Eaks, who tied a tournament record with a 64 on Thursday, fell off the pace with a double bogey on the 16th hole and finished with a 73 for a 137.

Fred Gibson, Tom Watson and Isao Aoki were at 138. Gibson and Aoki shot 69s, Watson a 71.

Arnold Palmer had three triple bogeys and a double bogey, shooting an 85 for a 25-over total. Afterward, he wondered aloud about his future in competitive golf.

"I think maybe I've got a clue as to what's been wrong," he said. "I'll go work on it and see if I can hit good enough to even continue to play at all. That's how bad I've been playing."

Palmer wasn't the only big-name golfer to struggle on the 7,005-yard Caves Valley Golf Club course.

Gary Player, who shot a 75 for a 154, and defending champion Bruce Fleisher, who shot a 75 for a 151, were among several prominent golfers who missed the cut of 7-over 149.

"I played miserably. There's not a whole lot more I can say about it," Fleisher said. "It was a lousy two days."

And it was a glorious 48 hours for Hall, winner of just one tournament in his five years on the senior circuit. Hall made six birdies in a bogey-free round Friday after opening with a 70 on Thursday.

"I've had two great days," he said. "Anytime you play an Open and you shoot 1-under and 6-under, that's awfully good - especially for me."

Hall has confidence in his game, but he never expected to find himself leading the pack after 36 holes.

"I don't ever tee it up, especially in an Open, and say, 'Hey, I'm the guy here.' You've got some of the greatest players who have ever played the game of golf that I'm contending with," he said.

Including Kite, who started his day on 17, where he had a difficult shot from a front bunker when play was suspended by lightning Thursday.

"I tossed and turned a little bit thinking about that shot all night," he said. "I made a bogey and finished with a nice par on 18, so I was pleased with the round."

After a short break, Kite returned to hit 17 greens in regulation, making four birdies along the way.

"Today was a really good round. I hit the ball solidly and I putted it well," he said. "Now I've got to keep doing it for two more days."

Seeking his third win on the tour this year, Kite is looking for a U.S. Senior Open title to go with the U.S. Open championship he took in 1992. In his two previous Senior Opens, he finished third and 15th.

Canizares shot a 68 for the second straight day but three-putted on No. 18 for his first bogey of the tournament. That didn't ruin a round in which he sank a pair of 18-foot birdie putts.

"I played steady. My putting today is very good," he said. "I'm happy."

Gibson also was delighted with his round - and the fact that he didn't injure someone with his damaged driver.

"I heard something crack, then I put the club on the ground and the head fell off," he said. "If I would have made one more swing, it could have killed me or hit somebody in the crowd."

He received another driver before playing 18 and parred the hole.