Furyk shoots 64 to take 2-shot lead in US Senior Open
The combination of wind, heat and humidity made it difficult to go low at the U.S. Senior Open on Friday.
Jim Furyk and Greg Kraft found a way.
Furyk shot a 6-under 64, the best round in days at Omaha Country Club, to take a two-stroke lead over Stephen Ames. The 2003 U.S. Open champion and 17-time PGA Tour winner rebounded from an opening 72 to get to 4 under.
“I was able to see some putts go in, and I hit a lot of fairways, a lot of greens today, kept the ball in good places,” Furyk said. “When I missed it, I missed it in the right spots for the most part. Just really kind of got on a roll and got some momentum.”
First-round co-leader Ames bogeyed four of the first six holes on his second nine and shot 73. Two-time U.S. Senior Open runner-up Miguel Angel Jimenez (71) was 1 under.
Kraft, who hadn’t played in a tournament since September 2019, had four straight birdies on his second nine and shot 65 for the best round of the afternoon session.
“I just got it going,” said Kraft, who shot 75 on Thursday. “I actually played not that bad yesterday, but I was on the wrong side of the hole all day. Today I got it under the hole, which made a big difference.”
Kraft was in a logjam of 10 players at even par. Among them were first-round co-leader Billy Andrade (75), Fred Couples (71), David Toms, Thongchai Jaidee (71) and the oldest player in the field, 67-year-old Jay Haas (71).
“You know, there’s such a long way to go, but I’m playing OK,” Haas said. “I don’t think I’m playing just amazingly — golf that I can’t even fathom. I can play better, I think, but I have to do it. I feel good. Health, I love the heat. It keeps me loose.”
Alex Cejka (74), the winner of the first two majors of the year, was in a group of 12 at 1 over along with major winners Mike Weir (74), Mark O’Meara (71) and Retief Goosen (69).
With thunderstorms in the forecast Saturday, the first tee times for the third round were moved up to 7:15 a.m. with threesomes going off Nos. 1 and 10.
Temperatures were in the low 70s when Furyk went out Friday morning, but wind swirled and was gusty. The wind calmed by the afternoon, but heat and humidity set in to create feel-like temperatures near 100, and the conditions coupled with the hills of OCC wore on the 50-and-over players.
Furyk hit 12 of 13 fairways and 15 of 18 greens in regulation and had three birdies on each side.
The turning point, he said, was making a 30-foot putt to save par after his tee shot landed in a greenside bunker on the 240-yard, par-3 third hole. Birdies on three of the next four holes got him under par for the tournament.
“Then you’re kind of playing with house money,” he said. “You can relax a little bit and just think fairways and greens.”
Furyk ended his round with a birdie on the par-4 18th. He hit a knocked-down 8-iron about 15 feet under the hole and made the putt to secure his lowest score in an official event since last September.
The 51-year-old Furyk has two victories and nine top-10s in 15 events since he joined PGA Tour Champions last year. He’s never been out of the top 25 as a senior. His highest finish in a senior major is sixth in the Senior Players Championship at Firestone two weeks ago.
Andrade followed a bogey-free 65 with a 75 that included six bogeys.
“I felt like I played better than 75, and I’m still in it,” Andrade said. “So just go prepare for tomorrow and go out and hit some drives in the fairway and see if we can make a few birdies.”
McIlroy misses cut after spectator swings his 6-iron on tee
Rory McIlroy was waiting to get his second round underway on the 10th hole at the Scottish Open when a spectator wandered on to the tee, had a dig into the four-time major winner’s golf bag, and started taking swings with his 6-iron.
It wasn’t long before the interloper, who smelled of alcohol according to McIlroy’s playing partner, Jon Rahm, was ejected from the tournament.
McIlroy didn’t last much longer.
After an even-par round of 71, McIlroy missed the cut at the European Tour event on Friday and will be making an earlier-than-planned journey to the south of England for next week’s British Open.
He was 1 under for the tournament, 10 shots off the lead held by the top-ranked Rahm and Belgium’s Thomas Detry — after their rounds of 6-under 65 — and first-round leader Jack Senior (67). They were all on 11-under 131 overall.
McIlroy was reluctant to speak in detail about the incident on his first hole, which took place about 8 a.m. local time.
“I was surprised,” he said
“It was handled efficiently, and everything was OK. I had no idea who it was.”
Rahm said alcohol could be smelled on the spectator’s breath.
“He came in so confident, and we thought he was going to take a picture or something,” the U.S. Open champion said. “We thought he was maybe part of the camera crew or a photographer.
“After a little bit, when he walked back and they were taking him out, you could smell the reason why it happened. Me and Rory didn’t say anything. He was holding a 6-iron and I didn’t want to get hurt.”
Rahm didn’t think the incident unnerved McIlroy.
“It didn’t put anyone off,” the Spanish player said. “If anything, it put a smile on our faces. It will be a pretty good story to tell in the future.”
Footage of the incident was spread widely on social media. The man was eventually escorted off the tee by a security guard after handing the club to McIlroy’s caddie, Harry Diamond.
David Wilson, a member of nearby club Kilspindie who posted the footage, said in The Scotsman newspaper: “The players laughed it off, saying they knew he wasn’t a golfer when they saw his grip.”
The European Tour said the matter was being dealt with by Police Scotland, which told Britain’s Press Association that the man had been taken to the hospital in Edinburgh and that “enquiries are ongoing.”
This week marks the first time that spectators have been allowed in to watch a British golf event since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. Around 4,000 were being permitted entry per day.
They didn’t help McIlroy, who was seventh in the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines last month but was tied for only 59th in the Irish Open last week.
Rahm has retained the form that led him to his first major title, adding a 65 to his opening 66.
He reached the turn in 29 shots — and was 6 under for his round at that stage — and added a seventh birdie of the day at No. 1.
Rahm could cover the front nine only in even par.
“The elements changed, and I was playing some holes in a wind I had never played before. I got a little hesitant,” Rahm said.
“I made some aggressive swings without thinking about it as much as I could have because I was playing so well and maybe could have taken a step back. Swing-wise, it’s good. If I just clean up some little mistakes, it could be better.”
George Coetzee (66), Lee Westwood and Matt Fitzpatrick (66) were a stroke behind Rahm, Detry and Senior.
Third-ranked Justin Thomas was a further shot back after a 69.
Hataoka keeps Marathon LPGA Classic with late birdie burst
Nasa Hataoka needed another birdie streak to hang onto the lead Friday in the Marathon LPGA Classic.
A day after making six straight birdies in an opening 10-under 61, the 22-year-old Japanese player had four in a row on Nos. 14-17 to salvage a 69.
“My shots were not as good as yesterday,” Hataoka said. “Didn’t have that many chances. I had a lot of problems, but I was able to fix that for the last part and bring it back up.”
Her lead was cut from four to two strokes, with American Mina Harigae second after her second straight bogey-free 66.
Hataoka had a 12-under 130 total at Highland Meadows. She played the first nine in 1 over with two birdies and three bogeys and dropped another shot on 13 before rallying with the late birdie burst.
“I was kind of stiff on impact and I was able to realize that and adjusted to relax myself and that brought those birdies,” Hataoka said.
The three-time LPGA Tour winner lost a playoff to Yuka Saso a month ago in the U.S. Women’s Open at Olympic Club. She took last week off after tying for 29th in Michigan and missing the cut in the KMPG Women’s PGA.
The 31-year-old Harigae is winless on the LPGA Tour.
“I feel really confident, comfortable with all aspects of my game,” Harigae said. “Just everything just kind of feels solid and everything is kind of flowing together, so it feels really good.”
Fellow U.S. players Alison Lee and Elizabeth Szokol each shot 66 to get to 9 under.
The resurgent Lee birdied the final three holes on the layout that closes with consecutive par 5s.
“It’s been a really long time since I’ve seen my name on the leaderboard like this,” Lee said. “Putting myself in contention for the weekend, it feels really, really good. It almost makes it as though two years didn’t happen, which is awesome to feel.”
Szokol also made a big move on Highland Meadows’ back nine, birdieing the last three and five of the final six in the round that began on No. 10.
“I’m just really looking forward to it — 36 more holes,” Szokol said. “I really like this golf course, so just see what the weekend brings. I’m excited to have fans back.”
Three more Americans — Jennifer Kupcho (65), Gerina Piller (65) and Lauren Stephenson (69) — were 8 under with Esther Henseleit (64) of Germany and Chella Choi (66) of South Korea.
Kupcho, Piller, Henseleit and Choi also birdied Nos. 17 and 18.
“I love coming back to this place,” Kupcho said. “This is where I came and played as an amateur, first LPGA event, so it’s always special. I love playing here.”
Defending champion Danielle Kang was 7 under after a 65.