BETHLEHEM, Pa. -- One nice thing about Senior Tour golfers -- whatever the shot, they have hit it before.
It was that way with Dave Stockton yesterday as he backed up an erratic opening 67 with a solid 5-under-par 66 for a record-setting 133 in the U.S. Senior Open at Saucon Valley Country Club.
It enabled him to open a three-stroke bulge on Gibby Gilbert, bidding for a third tour title in as many weeks, who shot 67 for 136. Of the top nine leaders, all but first-round co-leader Jack Kiefer (71) had rounds between 66 and 68.
It really is a star-studded leader board, with Jack Nicklaus at 138, Lee Trevino at 140 and Arnold Palmer at 143, in addition to two of the hottest players -- Stockton and Gilbert -- on the Senior
The 133 erased the previous 36-hole record of 67-68135 set by Lee Trevino at Ridgewood, N.J. CC in 1990, and the three-stroke lead matched the two-round record set by Dale Douglass in 1986 and matched by Billy Casper in 1988 (Douglass won; Casper didn't).
Lightning forced a suspension of play at 6:50 p.m., and five players were to return this morning to finish the round. The third round will begin immediately thereafter.
Referring to his mental approach, Stockton explained, "I can stand over a shot, and go back in memory and have a positive picture of having done it before."
In his memory bank are his first tour win -- at Colonial in 1967, where he opened 65-66 -- and two PGA Championships. In 1970, at Southern Hills, he led by seven with nine holes to play, and at Congressional in 1976, he had to make a 15-foot putt on the last hole to beat Raymond Floyd and Don January.
"This was more fun than yesterday [Thursday]," Stockton said. "I didn't take the detours I did then." He missed three fairways and three greens after missing six fairways and six greens in the first round.
"At least we [son Ron, 21, who is caddying for him] won't spend as much time on the practice tee as we did last [Thursday] night. This time, I played like someone who knew what he was doing."
Asked if he was comfortable with the lead, he replied: "I bet a whole lot more people are probably uncomfortable that I got to 9-under already. I like the lead, but it doesn't really matter until Sunday."
Stockton turned 2 under and had the lead to himself, as Kiefer played even. Coming back, he padded the margin with birdie putts from 12 feet at the 11th, 17 feet (with a 3-foot break) at the 15th and 14 inches at the 16th.
There, he hit a 7-iron shot 137 yards uphill, and the ball stopped just past the cup. He finished with 28 putts.
The threesome of Gilbert (four), Colbert (five) and Trevino (eight) combined for 17 birdies and had a best ball of 14-under 57. Trevino, with a "sprained metacarpal phalangeal joint" in his left thumb, received a cortisone shot Thursday night and had a pad placed over the sore spot yesterday. He finished 67140.
Among those with Maryland ties, former Baltimorean Dick Smith made the cut with 75-73148, and two others -- Dick Hendrickson and Dick Goerlich -- are probable after landing on 149.
Otherwise, it was a learning experience, a tough one.
"The courses are so much better. They're a challenge," said Baltimorean Gordon Chavis, making his first Senior Open (82-84166). "Now, I need to go work on some things."
NOTES: The four 66s were one off the lowest second-round mark of 65, set by Gary Player in 1990. . . . Gilbert figured he made the putt of the tournament at No. 11 when he had a 50-footer with a 12-15-foot break. "I was just trying to find a way to two-putt, and it went in." . . . Gilbert hit all 18 greens in regulation (three were on the fringe, but he putted them).