Stockton repeats himself with seven birdies, 67 He takes record 7-shot lead into Senior Open's last day

July 07, 1996|By John W. Stewart | John W. Stewart,SUN STAFF

BEACHWOOD, Ohio -- Dave Stockton's game plan worked so well during the third round of the U.S. Senior Open, he expects to trot it out again today.

"Make more birdies than bogeys," he said yesterday after a second successive seven-birdie day that resulted in a second straight 5-under-par 67, a 54-hole total of 204 and a record-smashing seven-stroke lead going into today's final round of the championship at Canterbury Country Club.

"I believe golf is 80 percent mental, and right now I'm in a zone -- hit it, find it, get it on the green, make the putt," he said. It is a formula that has produced 17 birdies in rounds of 70-67-67 over the 6,765-yard, par-72 course in suburban Cleveland.

Nobody has done it as well. Stockton began the round with a one-stroke edge on Bob Charles, but Charles started bogey-bogey for the second consecutive day and eventually bogeyed the last hole for 73-211. Seven bettered the previous third-round lead by three strokes, Dale Douglass' four at Scioto CC, Columbus, Ohio, in 1986.

Raymond Floyd and Hale Irwin produced 69s and were tied at 4-under-par 212 with Tony Jacklin and Jay Sigel. The only others under par among the 66 starters were Graham Marsh, Chi Chi Rodriguez and John Bland at 213.

Larry Ringer, CC at Woodmore head professional, played the back nine even to shoot 74 and was at 220.

"I came here mentally prepared after three weeks off," Stockton said, "and I was excited about it. I was glad to get here; I wanted to play."

Actually, he had wanted to play at least two of the intervening Senior tour events, Canada and Cincinnati, but his wife Cathy has had knee problems. She has had surgery on both, and is awaiting the possibility of a second operation on her left one.

That, and trying to help his sons on their respective pro tours -- Dave Jr. on the PGA tour, and Ron on the Hooters tour -- have given him enough to think about.

Stockton's round included two nice recoveries, as he followed bogeys at the fourth and 14th holes with birdies each time. "I like to get pumped up. I don't need much to motivate me, and believe me, I'm motivated this week," Stockton said.

Asked what he would have to do not to lose the groove, Stockton replied, "I guess play with Charles [for a fourth straight round] or maybe I should call [Greg] Norman, I don't know."

The tongue-in-cheek reference to Norman losing a six-shot lead on the last day of this year's Masters was followed by, "It was unfortunate to see; I was rooting for Greg."

Where Ringer had put himself in good positions by playing the front nine in 3-under the first two days, he slipped to a 2-over 38 yesterday.

"No rhythm," was his quick answer. "I didn't feel good starting out, and through the first four, five holes, I knew I didn't have it." After that, it was a grind, although he thought he played better on the back nine.

There was a birdie at the 13th, and good chances for a couple others, before ending with a bogey on No. 18 for the third straight day.

"I hit two really good shots at 18 [435 yards uphill], the 8-iron winding up 15 feet behind the hole," he said.

"It was straight downhill, the ball rolled six feet past, and I missed it coming back. Overall, I was fighting it all day long. I only hit nine greens, but managed to get through with 27 putts.

"I'm a little let down, because I get it under par and can't keep it there. Still, Todd [Sodeman, a CC Woodmore member caddying for his pro this week] saw this one as my best mental game. He keeps telling me it it's not a war -- it's a game."

NOTES: Only two players -- Simon Hobday (199) and Jim Albus (201), at Pinehurst two years ago -- have had lower 54-hole Senior Open totals than Stockton. . . . Of the three amateurs making the cut, Marvin Giles shot 75-225; Joel Hirsch 76-226; and Bob Hullender 77-227. . . . Among those missing the 36-hole cut, Bruce Lehnhard, from Fairfax, Va., improved from 84 to 72, with five birdies in six holes and six over the first 12 holes, before slipping back with bogeys, three of them when he had a sand wedge in his hands. . . . David Oakley, Chantilly National's first alternate, was home in Orlando, Fla., Tuesday afternoon when he was called to replace Orville Moody. He posted 78-77. . . . Mike McGinnis, head pro at Holly Hills CC in Ijamsville, was "just awful," in adding a 79 to an opening 80.

Pub Date: 7/07/96

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