64 gives Pooley 1-shot Constellation lead

Seven players within 2 strokes

Bean has tourney-record 63

September 17, 2006|By Paul McMullen | Paul McMullen,Sun reporter

Don Pooley was born in Phoenix, played for the University of Arizona and makes his home in Tucson. That doesn't sound like an ideal background for a mudder, but nothing brings out the best in Pooley like a visit to Baltimore's brand of sea level.

Pooley, whose signature golf victory came in the 2002 U.S. Senior Open at Caves Valley, thrived on a soggy second day of the Constellation Energy Classic, as he shot an 8-under-par 64 that moved him to 10-under and gave him a one-stroke lead heading into today's third and final round at Hayfields Country Club.

"I love playing in Baltimore, I have nothing but good memories here," said Pooley, nearly nine hours after he had played his last four holes of the first round.

Pooley was one of 36 players who were still on the course when nasty weather suspended play Friday. Another was Keith Fergus, who played his first-round 18th at 7:30 a.m., then shot a 66 that left him at 9-under.

They'll have a better night's rest when they're joined in the final threesome by Japan's Massy Kuramoto, whose 67 also has him one stroke behind Pooley.

Five players are two back at 8-under, including Andy Bean, who began the day at 1-over but shot a tournament-record 63 that included the only eagle of the round.

The group at 8-under includes Jay Haas and Brad Bryant, two of the top four players on the Champions Tour this year, and Tom Jenkins, who has played 36 holes without a bogey. Defending champion Bob Gilder is at 7-under. The group at 6-under includes Gil Morgan, Tom Watson and Jim Thorpe, the first-round leader who shot an even-par 72.

Arnold Palmer, playing for the first time in 11 months, followed Friday's 89 with an 84 that featured a par on the 597-yard No. 18.

All will be chasing Pooley, who arose at 4:30 yesterday morning, albeit with good karma, since he and his wife, Margaret, are staying in a guest room atop the clubhouse at Caves Valley.

Pooley had to qualify just to get into the Senior Open there four years ago. He beat Tom Watson on the fifth hole of a dramatic playoff, but got into the hunt with a course-record 63 that day, on another Saturday when he was sizzling.

"I thought about that, shooting another 63 in Baltimore," Pooley said. "I had no inkling at all that today would be this good, but I had no idea I would do what I did at Caves, either."

Pooley was actually staring at a 62 on No. 18, where he looked at an uphill, 15-foot birdie putt from the fringe. But he blew it by the hole and missed the come-backer, his only bogey in 22 holes yesterday. He also had a birdie putt come up just shy on 17, but before that his round was nothing but highlights.

Playing lift, clean and place for the second straight day, Pooley started his second round with three straight birdies, and added six more. He is seeking his first win since the Allianz Championship in 2003, a year that began with shoulder surgery.

If Pooley can't become the fifth straight second-round leader to win at Hayfields, several are in position to get their first wins on the Champions Tour.

Fergus, 52, can become only the second man to win on the PGA, Nationwide and Champions tours. He came close last month, when he lost a playoff to Tom Kite. The Texan played both nines in 3-under yesterday, and said: "I was never in trouble. It was a fun day."

Kuramoto, 51, won 34 times on the Japan Tour, but his first on American soil came last winter, in the six-round Champions Tour national qualifying tournament. The vice chairman of the PGA Tour of Japan is listed at 5 feet 5, weighs 145 pounds and hits it a mile. Where does his power originate?

"Made in Japan," he smiled.

Bean, 6-4, 260 and sporting a Florida Gators rain sleeve, is two decades removed from his last win on the PGA Tour. At one point he had a share of the lead and a gallery of five people - perhaps 1 percent of the pack following Palmer - but Bean didn't mind.

"I'm in a lot better shape than I was when the day started," Bean said. "Somebody in the marshal's tent said, `You need to shoot 65.' I needed to do better than that."

Starting on No. 10, Bean made birdies on eight of his first 12 holes. That stretch also included a bogey and that eagle, courtesy of a 34-foot putt in the mist on No. 16.

Notes -- Today's general parking has been moved to the Verizon Office Complex, across from Hunt Valley Town Center on Shawan Road. Shuttle service will begin at 8 a.m., and a split-tee start is at 9:15 a.m. ... Thorpe got to 8-under, then bogeyed Nos. 15 and 16. ... The credentials at 8-under are considerable. Haas and Bryant have five wins between them this season, and Jenkins has won in six of the past seven years.paul.mcmullen@baltsun.com

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