Seven birdies have Marsh flying high U.S. Senior Open champ trails leader by 1 shot

Notebook

July 04, 1998|By John W. Stewart | John W. Stewart,SUN STAFF

Graham Marsh, the reigning U.S. Senior Open champion, equaled his best round of the year to challenge Tom Jenkins for the first-round lead in the State Farm Senior Classic yesterday at Hobbit's Glen Golf Club.

Marsh, with seven birdies after an opening-hole bogey, finished 34-32--66, and trails Jenkins by one shot. The total was his best opening-round score in nearly a year.

"I've been tremendously consistent all year, but it's been a year where one or two shots [the wrong way] have made a big difference. Hopefully, now that I'm here for a stretch, I'll play better," said the Australian, who owns 61 titles on five international tours.

"Birdies at Nos. 3 and 4 put me back on track, and when I got the putter going, an average round turned into a very good round," he said.

His four back-nine birdies totaled 95 feet, including 35-footers at the 10th and 15th holes. This marked his 16th below-par effort in his last 17 rounds.

Stockton enthusiastic

Dave Stockton, who opened with a 5-under-par 67 for the second straight week, sounded as ifhe worked for the tournament committee.

Asked his impressions, he said, "My first one is why we waited so long to come to Baltimore. I was impressed with the huge galleries, and how they reacted.

"The people were thanking us for coming here, and when you get a reception like that, it makes the golf easier. Everybody has a great time.

"When it's all done, I think this will be one of our big success stories of 1998. The people here have put their best foot forward. It's a heck of a show."

Stockton, 56, winner of the 1976 PGA Championship at Congressional CC in Bethesda, has done about everything but win on the Senior Tour this year. Included in his 16 starts are two seconds and a third, and he comes here off a fourth place at the Cadillac NFL Classic in Clifton, N.J., last week.

"When it gets hot I start playing well. I'm coming off a good week, and when things are going well [one round over par in his last 12], I come out to the course excited."

Gibson shoots 69

Fred Gibson, the Washington native who was a club pro in the Middle Atlantic section for some 15 years, led those with area ties, posting 34-35--69. "The golf course is in the best shape I've ,, seen it in 25 years of playing here," he said. "I had three birdies, no bogeys, and made no bad mistakes, the way I have been doing."

Et cetera

Terry Dill, who shot 67, played with Jenkins, and Jerry McGee, who had 71. "It helps when others are playing well," Dill said. "That's why I particularly enjoy playing with Stockton and [Jim] Colbert. They want you to shoot 66, because they think they can shoot 65." Although tickets are available for the last two days, fans are being asked to carpool to assist in traffic control.

Pub Date: 7/04/98

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