Stewart Cink chipped onto the 15th green yesterday. He leads the field by a stroke after a 6-under 64.
Cink’s pair of eagles puts him atop Travelers
CROMWELL, Conn. » Stewart Cink moved to the top of the Travelers Championship leaderboard yesterday, making two long eagle putts in a 6-under 64 that left him a stroke ahead of defending champion Hunter Mahan and two others.
Cink, the 1997 winner at TPC River Highlands, is seeking his first victory of the season after six top-10 finishes.
"I hope it's just a matter of time," Cink said. "I hope it's a matter of about two days."
It didn't look good early for Cink, who began the day at 4 under and promptly bogeyed the first two holes. He got one back with a birdie at the third before knocking in a 26-foot putt for eagle on the par-5 sixth. He bettered that shot by curling in a 49-foot right-to-left eagle putt on the 13th.
"I just kept staying down and staying focused on doing what I can do and that's just stroking the putter through the ball, almost not looking up to watch it," said Cink, who opened with a 66 on Thursday en route to a 10-under 130 total.
Mahan shot a 63, the best round of the day, to join Ken Duke and Lucas Glover at 9 under. Duke and Glover shot 66s.
Mahan has been under par in 10 of his last 11 rounds at the TPC River Highlands, where he won last year in a playoff with journeyman Jay Williamson. Mahan tied for second in 2006, and has made five consecutive cuts on the course.
"I just feel comfortable here," Mahan said. "I make a lot of free swings and I can play golf and I don't have to worry about where the ball might end up."
Yesterday, the ball usually ended up in the fairway, on the green or in the hole. The 26-year-old Mahan shot a bogey-free round, with seven birdies, including four on his first seven holes. He hit all 14 of fairways and 15 of 18 greens.
Mahan would be only the second back-to-back winner in the 55-year history of the tournament. Phil Mickelson won in 2001 and 2002.
Duke and Glover followed first-round 65s with their 66s.
"It was a good day, I mean a steady day," Duke said.
Ninety-eight players finished the first two rounds under par, and 72 made the cut at 3 under, the lowest cut on tour this season.
"This course is playing fairly simple, and the scores are definitely out there," said amateur Michael Thompson, who was the low amateur at last week's U.S. Open.
Thompson (67) finished at 8 under yesterday, tied for fifth place with Brad Adamonis (68), the tour's oldest rookie at 35, and Kevin Sutherland (65).
Adamonis, from nearby Cumberland R.I., had to make a save on his final hole of the day. He hit his second shot over the green and underneath a small tree. But he managed to chip it onto the green, and sink the par putt.
"I'm thinking maybe it's out of bounds," he said. "Luckily, I had a window where I can get it on the green and I made about a 15-footer and it was a great way to end the day."
Adamonis, who suffers from vertigo, had missed six cuts and withdrawn once in 14 starts coming into the Travelers.
A group of five finished the day at 7-under 133, including Tom Pernice Jr. (68), Heath Slocum (66) and Kenny Perry (67), who eagled his first hole of the day, pitching in a shot from 133 yards out.
"I had not holed a shot in a long time, and that was quite a way to open your eyes a little bit and put a big smile on your face," Perry said.
Kite ties record
CONCORD, Mass. » Tom Kite matched the course record with a 9-under 63 yesterday to take the first-round lead in the Bank of America Championship.
Kite birdied the first three holes at Nashawtuc Country Club and played the front nine in 6-under 30 in the Champions Tour event. Two strokes ahead of Mark McNulty and David Eger, Kite matched Allen Doyle's tournament record set in 2003.
"It's nice to have something to get excited about," said Kite, winless since 2006.
This year, the 57-year-old Kite has one second-place finish, but hasn't placed in the top 10 since mid-February.
Hayashi out in PGA
LAKE OCONEE, Ga. » Scott Hebert shot a 1-under 71 on the Great Waters course yesterday to take a one-stroke lead in the PGA Professional National Championship at Reynolds Plantation.
Hawaii's Kevin Hayashi failed to qualify by a stroke with a two-round total of 147.
The 39-year-old Hebert, a former Ferris State player based at Grand Traverse Resort & Spa in Michigan, had a 6-under 138 total after opening with a 67 on Thursday on the Reynolds Landing course. He had five birdies and four bogeys yesterday.
The top 20 finishers will get spots in the PGA Championship at Oakland Hills in August. The winner will earn $75,000 and also receive an exemption into the next five PGA Professional National Championships, a spot on the 2009 PGA Cup Team and exemptions into six PGA Tour events over a 12-month period.