Chances for Hall go way of missed putts Birdie attempts go awry on last 2 holes at Hobbit's

State Farm Classic notebook

July 06, 1998|By John W. Stewart | John W. Stewart,SUN STAFF

Walter Hall, a non-exempt player on the Senior PGA Tour, joined Bruce Summerhays as the only players to get to 10-under par in the State Farm Senior Classic at Hobbit's Glen Golf Club yesterday.

Where Summerhays reached that number with a winning 18-foot birdie putt on the last hole, Hall made it with a 40-foot over-a-ridge putt at the 12th, then gave it right back off a bad tee shot at the 13th.

Playing in the threesome in front of Summerhays, Hall's best birdie chances getting home were at the last two holes, but he missed from eight feet at the 17th, and saw his bid to take the lead slip away when his 15-footer went left of the cup.

"That approach shot at 18 got behind the hole, and it was a tough putt from that side. I had some good chances. If I get in the hunt again, maybe lightning will strike. I'll just keep trying."

In tying Hale Irwin, with whom he played, for second place, Hallearned his best tour finish, surpassing his third last year at the Bank One Classic, the tournament in Lexington, Ky., that was replaced on the schedule by this one.

Hall, 51 last month, began the round at 6 under, four strokes back of co-leaders David Graham (74) and Tom Jenkins (79). He played the front nine 3 under, including four birdies on putts inside of 10 feet.

He made four attempts to get his PGA Tour player's card in the 1970's, then got his amateur status back while in private business. He turned pro again in 1994 and had two years on the Asian tour and one on the Hooters tour, before going to the Monday qualifiers, and getting sponsors' exemptions after turning 50.

For 1997, he collected $161,000 in eight starts, and so far in 1998, there have been 11 tournaments and $227,000.

Irwin on the move

Irwin cited his putting as the key to perhaps keeping him out RTC of the winner's circle.

"I had two three-putts! Overall, I drove the ball well, my irons were OK, and my putting was representative of good, not great, putting."

Asked how it felt to be the all-time money leader in professional golf, he said, "It's representative of a good career, a lot of steady play." Of his going past the $12 million mark, he laughed and said, "If that was a net number, I'd really be impressed."

Irwin is on the go this month, with only four days scheduled at home. Today, he is in Raleigh, N.C., for a site visit at a golf course his design team is doing; tomorrow, it's a media day in Minneapolis as the defending tournament champion; and by tomorrow night he'll be in Detroit, ready to focus on this week's Senior Players Championship, one of the tour's four majors.

"With the players, it's titles, not money, that makes the difference. That and the Senior Open are both this month. That's not what I prefer, but it's the way it is."

A three-time tour winner this season, he is behind last year's pace when he won a tour record-tying nine times. "So far this year, I'm just not getting the shot here or the putt there that I got last year."

Et cetera

David Oakley's 216 was one stroke shy of getting him into this week's Senior Players event, but Tommy Aaron may be questionable after slipping and spraining his ankle as he went down the hill at the 10th hole. At the finish, he was in obvious pain. Lou Graham, a former area assistant professional before going on tour in the 1960s, had his best round of the year, a 72.

Pub Date: 7/06/98

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