Bernhard Langer regains Senior PGA lead with late birdie run
STERLING, Va. (AP) Bernhard Langer sat on a bench and ate a sandwich, chatted with his playing partners and signed autographs for fans as he waited out a 41-minute wind delay on the 14th tee at Trump National. When play resumed, he swung two clubs to loosen up and got back to business.
Langer grinded out three pars in the teeth of the wind and, when conditions began to improve, he took advantage, making five straight birdies to regain the lead Friday at the Senior PGA Championship.
Langer was 11 under through 13 holes when play was halted because of darkness, one shot ahead of Vijay Singh, who shot 68 amid wind measured at more than 30 mph. Singh was at 10-under 134 through two rounds. Billy Andrade also shot 68 and was one shot behind Singh. Their scores were eight shots better than the field average.
The wind was so strong that golf balls moved on exposed greens, sand blew out of bunkers and whitecaps formed on the muddy Potomac River.
Playing in his first Senior PGA, the 54-year-old Singh made par putts from outside 10 feet on 15 and 16 and two-putted for birdie on the par-5 18th. Through two rounds, the long-hitting Fijian is 7 under on the par 5s, his only par coming when he three-putted the third hole.
”I’m driving the ball really well, which makes a big difference,” Singh said. ”They’re all reachable. So even for medium-length hitters, if you hit the fairways you can get in there with a 3-wood or 5-wood.”
President Donald Trump’s course about 25 miles outside Washington is exposed to the wind in part because Trump decided to cut down more than 450 trees to create scenic riverfront holes. The conditions were reminiscent of another Trump course, Turnberry in Scotland, which has hosted multiple British Opens. There were 23 rounds in the 80s and one round of 90.
Playing with Singh, Corey Pavin made a quadruple-bogey 7 on the fourth hole and followed his first-round 69 with an 82 to miss the cut. Fran Quinn shot 80 but will play the weekend on the strength of his first-round 66.
”It was hard keeping your balance and hitting a solid shot,” Singh said. ”And putting was really difficult. Wind blowing sideways, if you have a downhill putt, it’s really hard. … If you start going south, it’s really hard to keep it together.”
Notorious for tinkering with his putting method, Singh went to a new putter and a new grip this spring and teamed with Carlos Franco to win the Bass Pro Shops Legends of Golf, his first victory on the PGA Tour Champions. He then returned to the PGA Tour, where he continues to play a full schedule, and tied for 16th at The Players Championship. He parted ways with his caddie after The Players.
”New caddie this week as well that I’m working really well with,” Singh said.
Langer, 59, could break Jack Nicklaus’ record this week with his ninth senior major. He won No. 8 last week at the Regions Tradition.
Andrade had a chance to match Singh after he hit his second shot to 8 feet on 18, but he missed the eagle putt.
”I actually thought the putt was going to just kind of wiggle right and it was wiggling and then it quit wiggling,” Andrade said.
Tom Lehman and Scott McCarron were 8 under with holes left to play. Lehman made amends on 18, the second-easiest hole on the course, after a bogey Thursday. His second shot bounced over the back of the green and nestled against a hospitality area. After a free drop, he fluffed his pitch and left it short. Then he chipped in for birdie.
Miguel Angel Jimenez provided plenty of excitement for the galleries following him, John Daly and Rocco Mediate in his round of 71. Playing aggressively despite the tough conditions, he hit 7-wood into the wind to 12 feet for birdie on the par-4 fifth. On the downwind, short par-4 ninth, he drove the green with a fairway wood and made a 40-footer for eagle to take the lead.
The ponytailed Spaniard gave back both shots on the downwind, par-3 10th after his tee shot trickled over the back of the green and down a steep slope. Following Jimenez, Daly made a weak swing and missed short and right.
”I was afraid to hit it,” said Daly, who shot 74 and was even par.
Jimenez dropped two more shots on the back nine, but he salvaged his round with a 25-footer from off the green for eagle on 18. Jimenez waved his visor in a swinging motion and sheathed his putter like a matador’s sword. He was five shots back along with Larry Mize, who followed up his first-round 65 with a 73, and David Toms, who had three holes left to play.
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