Senior contends at Senior Open
BY European Tour | European Seniors Tour | 2012 Senior British Open | Round Two | 28 Jul 2012
American Gary Hallberg produced what Bernhard Langer called ‘the round of the year’ to take a three shot lead over the German and Tom Lehman at the halfway mark of The Senior Open Championship Presented by Rolex.
In testing windy conditions at Turnberry, Hallberg fired a course record-equalling seven under par 63 for a six under par total of 134.
The 54 year old’s second round was all the more remarkable considering he was five over par through 13 holes on Thursday after taking 40 shots to cover the front nine, before four birdies in the last five holes salvaged a respectable first round of 71.
After his only bogey of the day on the second hole, Hallberg, a three-time winner on the US PGA Tour, climbed 48 places up the leaderboard, carding an impressive eight birdies in 13 holes.
Playing in the third group to take to the Ailsa Course on Friday morning, when winds were somewhat less prominent than later in the day, Hallberg recovered from an early bogey when he three putted from the front edge of the green, carding a hat-trick of birdies from the fifth to the seventh holes to make the turn in 33 shots. He then started the back nine with further birdies at the tenth and par three 11th.
Another birdie followed at the 13th, before Hallberg carded perhaps his most impressive three of the day at the 14th.
Having missed the green to the right, one of his only errant shots of the day, Hallberg holed his 40 foot birdie putt from off the green before an eighth birdie of the day at the long 17th helped seal a memorable day for the 1980 PGA Tour Rookie of the Year.
“When I was five over on the first day after nine holes I thought, I’m not playing that bad,” Hallberg reflected. “I was playing good but I just couldn’t get it going. So I hung in there and played a great back nine; I think the 40 helped me because it turned me around mentally to go play aggressively.
“So I played aggressively today, had some great putts go in but I also missed some putts from around six, seven feet today but you can’t make them all. It was one of the great days that I’ve had in many years on the golf course. It was just a pleasure.”
Hallberg will be joined in the final pairing on Saturday by his close friend Lehman, the 1996 Open Champion, whose only birdie of the day came on the 17th hole in a round of 71.
“I don’t think you’re ever happy in golf when you shoot the worst score you can possibly shoot, which was the case yesterday,” he said. But you’re always really pleased in golf when you seem to shoot the best score you can possibly shoot and that was more the case today. I made a few mistakes out there but by and large, I really got the most I could get out of that round and I am really pleased.”
Lehman shares second place on three under par 137 and with another former World Number One, Langer, who followed his opening round 64 with a three over par 73 in the worst of the conditions in the late afternoon.
Langer was the last man to win The Senior Open Championship on Scottish soil at Carnoustie in 2010, and he remains in a strong position to reclaim the title despite losing a ball en route to a treble bogey seven on the 13th hole.
The two-time Masters Champion paid tribute to Hallberg’s sublime round.
“I think that’s the round of the year,” said Langer. “When I heard that before I started I said, well, that’s seven under today, that’s like ten or 11 under on a normal, decent day. That’s how good it was. My hat’s off to him. He played some incredible golf.”
Peter Senior is in 4th position at 1 under and five behind the leader, while Peter Fowler is just one shot further back.
Queenslander Anthony Gilligan, in one of his very first Senior events, is in 18th position which given the circumstances is an outsanding effort.
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