Kite’s record 28 leads to Senior Open lead

LAKE ORION, Mich. — Tom Kite didn’t shoot 59. He didn’t even shoot his age.

What he did Thursday was impressive enough.

The 62-year-old Kite shot a USGA-record 28 on the front nine at Indianwood Country Club and held on for a 5-under 65 to lead the U.S. Senior Open by one shot over Bernhard Langer and Lance Ten Broeck.

“Obviously, when you are 7 under on the front nine, you’ve gotten things going pretty well,” Kite said. “The thing is that you have to stay in the moment. You can’t start thinking about what number you can shoot. You have to focus on the next shot.”

Kite had five birdies on the front nine and holed a 155-yard shot for an eagle on the par-4 fourth. The 28 broke the record of 29, which had been done several times, including by Vijay Singh in the 2003 U.S. Open and Olin Browne at last year’s U.S. Senior Open.

“It was a blind shot, so I never saw it go in,” Kite said of his eagle. “The gallery let me know.”

Kite tried to downplay his hot start, but playing partners Scott Simpson and Peter Jacobsen weren’t having any of it.

“I certainly didn’t think there was a 28 out there,” Simpson said. “He just played textbook golf. He was just short of the (par-5) first in two, and didn’t get up and down, but he didn’t miss another shot after that.”

Jacobsen worked with Kite on his swing last week in Pebble Beach, and quickly regretted the decision.

“I felt like the Washington Generals playing against the Harlem Globetrotters out there,” Jacobsen joked.

Ironically, Browne, who shared the record Kite broke, was the other player helping him at Pebble Beach.

“He asked for some tips — we’ve all been doing that for 30-some years now,” Jacobsen said. “Olin and I were all over him, and we gave him a couple ideas. They worked last week, and they are obviously still working.”

At 62, Kite normally would be outside the window of Champions Tour success, but he thinks hard work has changed that number.

“You might not have read it, but 60 is the new 40,” he said. “Look at Hale Irwin. He’s 68, and he looks great, he’s in fantastic shape, and he is still playing great golf. These guys are my contemporaries, and we’re inspiring each other to keep going.”

Kite didn’t finish as strongly, with a double-bogey on 17 ruining his last chance to shoot his age. Still, the 28 tied his career best for nine holes, a mark he first set in the Ohio King’s Island Open in 1977.

Corey Pavin thought he had finished the day tied for the lead, but was assessed a two-shot penalty because his ball moved while he was addressing a chip on the 14th hole. Pavin said he agreed with the penalty after watching a post-round replay.