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Crowded at the Top of Senior PGA Championship


Six players have created a logjam atop the leaderboard in the Senior PGA Championship. The $2 million event, the second straight Champions Tour major following the Regions Tradition last week, teed off Thursday at the Golf Club at Benton Harbor in Benton Harbor, Mich.

The big group at 4-under 138 includes Japan's Kiyoshi Murota, who carded Friday's low round of 6-under 65, Tom Watson (68), Scotland's Colin Montgomerie (69), Germany's Bernhard Langer (68), Bart Bryant (67) and Denmark's Steen Tinning (66).

Seeking to duplicate the unlikely feat of his countryman, Kohki Idoki, the surprise winner of the Senior PGA last year, Murota had two eagles - on the par-5 fifth and ninth holes, three birdies and a bogey for his 6-under effort.

Despite a double-bogey on the par-4 12th, the 64-year-old Watson, who won the championship in 2001 and 2011, had a solid day with five birdies. Still searching for his first victory on the over-50 circuit, Montgomerie posted an eagle on the par-5 15th, two birdies and a pair of bogeys.

Langer, a two-time winner this year and the leader in the season-long Charles Schwab Cup race, posted four birdies and a bogey, and Bryant had six birdies and a pair of bogeys.

The 51-year-old Tinning, a two-time winner on the European Tour whose last victory came in 2002, enjoyed a spotless card with five birdies.

Despite his stumble on the 12th, Watson kept his head in the game. "I stubbed my chip and it came back and then I three-jacked it from there," Watson said of his wayward hold. "That's the way to make you throw up."

But Watson came home with birdies on Nos. 15 and 17. "It's part of my makeup," he said of bearing down. "I'm a competitor. I don't like to lose, and I like to get everything out of every shot."

Bryant was also pleased with his day. "It feels good," said the 51-year-old, whose older brother Brad is also on the Champions Tour. "I played well both days. I just couldn't get it in the hole (Thursday). I missed a few putts I should have made. But today I putted better. I played well, I just made a couple of small mistakes, but other than that it was very solid."

Only one stroke behind the leaders are Americans Dan Forsman (73), Russ Cochran (69), Mark Brooks (71) and Steve Pate (67), along with Canada's Stephen Ames (68).

Two shots back in a tie for 12th are Americans Greg Bruckner (71), Gary Hallberg (70), Duffy Waldorf (70), Scott Simpson (69) and Jay Haas (71).

First-round leader Joe Durant is also at 2-under. Durant, a four-time winner on the PGA Tour who turned 50 in April and is a Champions Tour rookie, followed up his opening 65 with a 75.

Reigning Charles Schwab Cup champion Kenny Perry, who won last week's Regions Tradition, has carded rounds of 70 and 75 and is seven strokes behind the leaders.

Defending champion Idoki rallied from an opening 76 with a 70 Friday.

The top club pro is Frank Esposito, who's shot rounds of 69 and 73 on the Jack Nicklaus-designed Golf Club at Benton Harbor.

For all the scores, visit http://www.pga.com/seniorpga/scoring/leaderboard.