BEACHWOOD, Ohio -- There is something about the second round of U.S. Senior Open championships that brings out the best in Dave Stockton.
Stockton, 54, one of the most successful players on the PGA Senior Tour, picked up four shots on leader Bob Charles over the last three holes and vaulted into a one-stroke lead halfway through the 17th championship at Canterbury Golf Club yesterday.
The leader finished with five birdies for 67 and a 36-hole total of 137, 7-under par for two trips over the 6,765-yard course. In five Open starts, the Californian has had two 66s, one 67, and nothing worse than a 70 for his second rounds.
When Charles, playing in the same threesome, bogeyed the last two holes for par 72, it left the first-round leader at 138.
That put him three strokes clear of Jay Sigel and South African John Bland. Another seven players finished under par (144), including Chi Chi Rodriguez, Hale Irwin, Graham Marsh and Raymond Floyd at 143.
Larry Ringer, head professional at the CC of Woodmore, struggled down the stretch for the second straight day, but still got in with a second 73 that left him in the middle of the pack.
Wally Armstrong, the Chantilly National (Centreville, Va.) medalist, made the cut with 75 for 149, and Chesapeake Cup veterans Vinny Giles and Joel Hirsch (plus Bob Hullender) were tied for low amateur at 150.
The cut came at 150, and 66 will play the last two rounds.
"My first two rounds actually mirrored each other, as I had five birdies both days," Stockton said. "I made very few mistakes."
What mistakes there were certainly were not on the greens yesterday, where he took 29 putts.
Down the stretch, he made a 15-foot par-saver at the 15th after missing his second fairway of the round, a 25-footer for birdie at the 16th, two putts from 40 feet for par at the 17th and a 22-footer at the last hole. "After three-putting there yesterday, I hit it right in the middle this time," he said.
Later, Stockton credited Donna Caponi, a two-time U.S. Women's Open champion, and a longtime friend, with some of that success.
"I had several putters with me a month ago in Pittsburgh, and had decided on one, and went to practice. At the finish, Donna had this funky-looking putter -- well, it was one I helped design for her -- and it was a mallet-head, and had this grip that looked as though it was from the 1960s. So I tried four putts from 15 feet and made every one of them.
"I said, 'Well, I'm going to use this thing.' She didn't care. I was supposed to leave it for her at 18, but I got a message on 17 saying she didn't mind if I kept it. So she's not getting it back. I figure anybody who has won back-to-back Women's Opens should know what kind of a putter I need, anyway."
Ringer, one of only four players (with Stockton, Charles, and Bruce Summerhays) to get to 4-under the first two days, started one over, dipped to 1-under after birdieing the par-5 13th, then dropped away with three bogeys over the last four holes.
There was a three-putt for one, the only bad tee shot he hit in two rounds led to another and he had a delicate pitch from behind the 18th green that, "I thought would come out fast, and it came out slow," and he missed the ensuing six-foot putt.
The result was mixed emotions. "I'm elated to make the cut, and although I came here to try and win, I'm happy with my position. At the same time, given the opportunities I had, I should have been lower. And the way I finished, I'm a little disappointed."
Pub Date: 7/06/96