Kite makes a sharp turn, drives to second-round 65

This time, his putts drop

Irwin goes the other way

U.S. Senior Open notebook

July 01, 2000|By Sam Borden | Sam Borden,SUN STAFF

BETHLEHEM, Pa. - It wasn't a tale of two cities for Tom Kite, but it certainly was a tale of two very different rounds.

The difference between Kite's first tour of Saucon Valley Country Club - a disappointing 1-over 72 - and yesterday's second trip - a remarkable 6-under 65 - couldn't be fully measured by just comparing the final scores.

"Believe me, [Thursday] night was not a very restful night for me," said Kite, who hit five more fairways and three more greens yesterday than he did in his first round. "I was tossing and turning all night because I came in here with such high expectations."

The biggest difference between the two rounds was in Kite's ability to convert the medium-range birdie chances. Only one of his six birdies yesterday (an 8-iron to four feet on No. 4) was the result of an iron shot that smothered the flag.

The rest were from eight to 15 feet - just the sort of thing that turns a 72, for example, into a 65. Now, with 36 holes to go, he is tied for fourth place, four strokes behind Bruce Fleisher.

Irwin slips

Hale Irwin's back has been bothering him for some time, but it's the sort of pain that comes when he's making strong, aggressive swings through the ball. Unfortunately for Irwin, he said his back felt fine yesterday.

After a first-round 66, Irwin struggled yesterday in the U.S. Senior Open, dropping two shots on the front nine and then picking them up on the back nine for an even-par 71. Still, he is only four shots behind Fleisher, a position with which he's comfortable.

"I can see Bruce and he can see me and there will be a few other players in between and that's fine," said Irwin, who won the 1998 Senior Open as well 26 other senior events. "Maybe the experience factor that I've had will help eat up some of that difference."

Palmer frustrated

The legendary and lovable Arnold Palmer saw glimpses of making the cut after an opening-round 76, but faded fast yesterday, shooting 82. Afterward, Palmer was visibly distressed, and intimated that this Senior Open may be his last.

"I'm not going to continue to play the way I have been," said Palmer, who didn't make a birdie during his second round. "I have a few commitments that I'll keep tournament-wise and a couple of exhibitions here and there, but it's getting to the end of the line."

Nicklaus shrugs

After stealing the show with a 67 on Thursday, Jack Nicklaus slipped quietly into the background with a second-round 75.

"What can I say? It's the way I've been playing all year," said Nicklaus.

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