Mending Graham co-leads He shoots season-best 65 to join Jenkins at the top

State Farm Classic notebook

July 05, 1998|By John W. Stewart | John W. Stewart,SUN STAFF

David Graham, still on the mend from a golf cart accident in early April, turned in his best score of the year, a 7-under-par 65, to tie for the lead after two rounds of the State Farm Senior Classic at Hobbit's Glen Golf Club yesterday.

He played with Hale Irwin and Larry Nelson, and said, "They're good partners because you know they will always play well. You get a little pumped up for that."

The transplanted Australian, who lives in Dallas, comes here off a two-week break from the Tour, but it was an earlier jolt that shook up his year.

"I shot 68 in the first round of the Tradition [in Arizona] and was on my way to the media tent when the cart driver hit a speed bump when I wasn't paying attention. Ninety minutes later I was having severe back spasms.

"It turned out to be two jammed disks and I was out for nearly a month. I'm about 95 percent now, but for one who likes to practice as much as I do, it has been tough. It takes awhile to come back, and I'm only just starting to come back now."

His round included seven birdies and a total of 29 putts after hitting 16 greens. All of his birdie putts were from inside 10 feet, as he matched the low round of the tournament. Co-leader Tom Jenkins shot 65 on Friday, and Frank Conner had a 65 yesterday.

Gibson on the rise

Fred Gibson has picked up his level of play over the past two months, and his four top-15 finishes in seven starts have helped in pushinging his earnings to nearly $150,000 in his rookie tour season.

He continued his strong play in the second round, tacking a 67 onto his opening 69, good for a tie at 136 with Dave Stockton and Graham Marsh, and two off the pace.

The 67 included six birdies and his first bogey of the tournament when he failed to make a four-foot putt after missing the green. Three of his four back-nine birdies were the result of putts from beyond 15 feet.

He will be in the next-to-last group today, but he has been in the last group and penultimate group before -- at suburban Kansas City, when he led with a 65, then posted rounds of 74 and 75.

"After 16, 17 events, I'm almost a veteran, and I feel comfortable," said the former Middle Atlantic PGA professional from Washington, who again will have a large cheering section of family and friends. "It feels good to be playing well, and I'll focus on that."

Et cetera

Terry Dill said he kind of messed up the par-5s (one birdie as opposed to three two-putt birdies Friday), although he putted better in adding a 68 to his opening 67 to be one shot off the lead. He had four birdies, and the closest he came to a bogey was a 12-foot par-saving putt after a bad drive at No. 13. Aside from Gibson, one-time Northern Virginia resident David Oakley had 68-140, followed by former Middle Atlantic PGA player of the year Bruce Lehnhard, of Fairfax, Va., 70 (146). Dale Douglass birdied the second playoff hole (No. 15) to defeat Jimmy Powell and Charles Coody in the MasterCard Super Seniors (60-over) series. They had tied at 142 for the 36-hole event.

Pub Date: 7/05/98

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