TURTLE BAY CHAMPIONSHIP
Pooley surprised at his move up the leaderboard
After shooting the only round in the 60s yesterday at the Turtle Bay Championship, Don Pooley moved up an astonishing 43 spots on the leaderboard.
Normally to make a move like that, you need to be closer to 60 than 70, but in windy conditions at the Arnold Palmer-designed course, Pooley's 3-under 69 took him from a tie for 58th after opening with a 74 to a tie for 15th at 1-under 143 for the first full-field event on the Champions Tour.
"Anytime it blows this hard anywhere, it's tough," Pooley said. "But here it's especially tough because the greens can be firm and fast downwind. And it's very hard to get the ball to stop where you want it to.
"Into the wind, it's easy to get up-shooters. It's just hard to control the distances on the shots in wind this strong. It was a very difficult day to play. I am surprised that I am the one who shot the low round."
Pooley is coming off his fourth consecutive year without a win. His last victory was in 2003 at the Allianz Championship. The best finish for the 56-year-old was a tie for fourth at the Wal-Mart First Tee Open that was won by current Turtle Bay leader Gil Morgan.
One thing that did please Pooley was how much he moved up the leaderboard.
"No kidding," Pooley said when alerted to that fact. "The only other time I moved up so high was in cold wind. But not a warm wind like this. That's pretty rare. I wouldn't have thought that I would have played quite that well. I played so poorly in the pro-am and I hit a lot of bad shots (Friday). But I birdied four of the first five holes (yesterday) and three of them were tap-ins."
Kite had close call
Don't ever ask Tom Kite
about the par-4 17th because it's not his favorite hole. Last year, he shot a double bogey there that cost him second place outright and yesterday he came close to getting a penalty at that green.
As he was about to putt for bogey, the ball moved forward about 2 or 3 inches. A rules official was nearby and agreed with Kite that he hadn't grounded his club behind the ball or that would have counted as a shot.
Kite, who uses a long putter, walked away after that happened and kind of made a stabbing motion with his club off the green. Playing partners John Cook and Bernhard Langer didn't question the decision. Kite wound up with a 1-over 73 and is four shots off the pace. In three previous trips here, Kite has finished second or tied for second. That tie last year cost him $42,000.
Inside the numbers
Morgan will try to become the 18th player 60 or older to win a Champions Tour event. It would be the 26th victory of his career on the senior circuit. He has won 16 of 31 events where he has held or shared the lead going into the final round. His best career finish here is a tie for 14th.
There will be only 77 golfers in the field today after Tim Simpson withdrew with a bad back and shoulder. Those are common ailments for golfers who have played this long. Lee Trevino withdrew before Friday's opening round with a bad back as well.
The hardest hole yesterday was the par-4 10th that set up straight into the trades yesterday. The scoring average was 4.416, with two birdies by Jeff Sluman and Chip Beck, 44 pars, 28 bogeys and two double bogeys.
The easiest hole was the par-5 ninth with a scoring average of 4.883. There were no eagles, 21 birdies, 45 pars, 10 bogeys and one double bogey by Mike Goodes. There was only one eagle yesterday by Kenny Knox at the par-5 third. There were 52 bogeys on the par-5s yesterday and five doubles or worse, including a 9 at the par-5 18th by Rick Karbowski. He had two balls in the water guarding the green and one unplayable en route to the 4-over total at the finishing hole.