Veteran claims lead after taming course

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. --- After putting a dent in Oak Hill Country Club's stingy reputation, Tom Purtzer sure didn't sound like someone who had the lead after the second round of the 69th Senior PGA Championship on Friday.

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Mark O'Meara watches his tee shot on No. 8 during the second round Friday. Despite a difficult course and windy conditions, he had the day's low round of 66 and moved into a tie for fourth.  Associated Press
Associated Press
Mark O'Meara watches his tee shot on No. 8 during the second round Friday. Despite a difficult course and windy conditions, he had the day's low round of 66 and moved into a tie for fourth.

"I mean, it's really brutal," Purtzer said. "To me, it's borderline too difficult."

Tell that to the other 83 players who managed to make the eye-popping cut of 12-over heading into the final two rounds this weekend.

A five-time PGA Tour winner, Purtzer shot 3-under 67 to go to even-par 140 for the $2 million tournament. That put him one up on Jay Haas, the first-round leader, who shot 2-over 72, and Massy Kuramoto, who finished the day with a round of 2 under.

Mark O'Meara, the Masters Tournament champion in 1998, scored the tournament's low round of 66 to jump into a tie for fourth with two-time Masters winner Bernhard Langer at 142.

There are 26 players within six shots of the lead. Greg Norman, Scott Hoch and defending Senior PGA champion Denis Watson were part of a 10-player logjam at 145.

Tommy Brannen, the head pro at Augusta Country Club, followed up a first-round 76 with 79 and missed the cut.

The East Course continued its dominance, giving up only eight sub-par rounds over two days. While temperatures warmed to above 60 on Friday after a bone-chilling and wet opening round, a tricky and persistent wind played havoc with competitors.

Over and over again, those atop the leaderboard voiced their frustrations over how difficult the winding, narrow and well-protected 7,001-yard course was playing.

"Golf course is so difficult," said Kuramoto, who has spent most of his career playing on the Japan Tour. "I'm thinking not distance. I'm thinking only keeping it fairway."

"Well, it's tough to not get frustrated here," said Langer, the Champions Tour money leader. "I've hit a number of good putts, a number of good shots that produced no result or a bad result."

Purtzer at least enjoyed some good results during a five-birdie, two-bogey round. Starting on No. 10, he fell to 2 over with a bogey on No. 5 before closing strong with a 12-foot putt for birdie on No. 7 and a 25-footer for birdie on No. 9.

"I just feel fortunate to be here," said Purtzer, a six-year Champions Tour veteran, who has posted only two top-10 finishes in 11 events this season. "I feel pretty good about what I'm doing, so we'll just see what happens."

The cut was the highest at a Senior PGA since 1990, when it was set at 13 over at PGA National Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.

O'Meara created a buzz with his 66 on a course that had only three players shoot 66 or better at the 2003 PGA Championship: Chad Campbell shot 65, while Phil Mickelson and Rod Pampling both shot 66.

Bouncing back from a wildly inconsistent opening round, which included three double-bogeys and one triple, O'Meara settled down by carding six birdies on Friday. The best came on No. 13, where he holed a 25-foot putt. He then completed his day by holing a 12-foot putt to save par on No. 18.


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