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Hallberg Ties Turnberrys' Record to Leap into Lead at Senior Open Championship
Gary Hallberg was undeterred on a day when the weather changed at Turnberry. The 54-year-old American tied the course record - a 7-under 63 - to jump to the top of the leaderboard in the Senior Open Championship. The $2 million major began Thursday on the Alisa Course at the Scottish resort.
After a bogey on the par-4 second, Hallberg turned things around in a big way with eight birdies in his final 14 holes to reach 6-under 134, three strokes ahead of Tom Lehman (71) and first-round leader Bernhard Langer, who followed up his opening 64 with a 73.
"I played aggressively today and had some great putts go in," said Hallberg, one of only two players to break par on a Friday with high winds. "I missed some putts, probably six, seven feet today and started to get nervous a bit at the end. I haven't been nervous in a while, but it's nice to get to that point where you can get that nervous. I had that (missed) putt on the last hole and I wanted that real bad."
Hallberg is just one of just six players to win on the PGA, Web.com and Champions tours. The only Champions Tour victory for the Illinois native, who now resides in Colorado, came in the 2010 Ensure Classic at Rock Barn.
"It would have been nice to tie the course record. I had a chance on that putt at 18 and I said to my caddie, 'it looks uphill' and he says, 'no, I don't think so'. I didn't want to hear that. I left it kind of weak, short. It wasn't hit hard enough," Hallberg told PGATour.com.
"I can't complain though. You can't make them all. It was one of the best days I've had in many years on the golf course. It was just a pleasure."
After playing the front nine Thursday in 5-over 40, Hallberg told himself to just go for it the rest of the championship. "I was 5-over the first day after nine holes and I thought, you know I'm not playing that bad; I'm playing good. I just couldn't get it going," he said.
"But I hung in there and played a great back nine. Today I started with a bogey when I missed a four-footer at No. 2 which hurt, but then, boy, I just had the confidence. I think the 40 helped me because it turned me around mentally to go play aggressively."
Five strokes behind Hallberg at 139 are Dick Mast, David Frost and Jay Don Blake - who all carded 73s - and Peter Senior (71).
Fred Couples joined Hallberg as the only other player to shoot below 70. The Seattle native carded a 2-under 68 to gain a share of eighth at 140 with Peter Fowler (72), Mark McNulty (75) and Michael Allen (74).
Three-time Senior Open champion Tom Watson opened with a 69 but shot 75 Friday. The five-time winner of the Claret Jug nonetheless qualified for the weekend. He's tied for 34th with, among others, 1989 British Open champion Mark Calcavecchia, who's carded two straight 72s.
The cut was set at 8-over 148. Among those heading home is Tommy Armour III, who started off promisingly with a 70 but ballooned with Friday's blustery weather to an 83. Senior Players champion Joe Daley also had a tough time, carding rounds of 78 and 81.
Greg Norman posted rounds of 72 and 77 to miss out on the weekend by a stroke.
England's Roger Chapman, the winner of the 2012 Senior PGA Championship and Senior U.S. Open, withdrew before the start of the second round, citing a neck injury. That means the 53-year-old won't have the chance to equal Jack Nicklaus's all-time record of three senior major victories in a season.
For complete scoring, visit http://www.europeantour.com/seniortour/season=2012/tournamentid=2012860/leaderboard/index.html.
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