Jerry Kelly made three birdies on the front nine to complete a one-under 69 and headed into the weekend at five-under 135, one shot ahead of Miguel Angel Jimenez.
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) — Maybe the best way to deal with the greens at the Broadmoor is to not putt on them at all.
Jerry Kelly got the message, and now he’s in the lead at the U.S. Senior Open.
After coming up short from the middle of the 18th fairway Friday, Kelly took advantage of a decent lie outside a bunker, chipped onto the green and watched it go straight in. He made three more birdies on the front nine — his second nine — to complete a 1-under 69 and headed into the weekend at 5-under 135, one shot ahead of Miguel Angel Jimenez.
“I knew I had to pull something out,” Kelly said. “And the chip came out just perfect and rolled right down and went in, and that got things going again.”
Kelly wasn’t the only one leaving his putter in the bag on a day that produced only 10 below-par scores and resulted in only eight players reaching the halfway point in the red.
Jay Haas chipped in for eagle on his final hole, the par-5 ninth, to shoot 69 and get to 1 under. “It wasn’t a no-brainer, but compared to a lot of the shots around the greens here, it was easier than what I’ve had,” the 64-year-old said.
Paul Goydos holed out from the 14th fairway as part of a 67 that left him at 1 under. It could’ve been better had his putt on 18 dropped after circling 180 degrees around the cup, then hanging on the edge and inexplicably staying out. “Slowest lip-out I’ve ever seen,” Goydos said.
Even John Smoltz got into the mix. The Hall of Fame pitcher chipped in from the rough near the 12th green for a birdie as part of a sweet ending to the his fantasy-camp stay with the world’s best senior golfers. He followed his opening-day 85 with a 77.
“People think this is easier than it is. They think they can hit those shots,” Smoltz said. “These are the best in the world, but it brought me to my humbled knees.”
Nobody dealt with the shifting winds and tricky greens better than Kelly and Jimenez, who were in the same threesome for the first two days and will be paired again Saturday — this time in the final group.
“When you see guys hit the fairways consistently, you feed off that,” Kelly said. “And that’s really the key out here, is just hitting the fairways.”
Coming off his first senior major championship last month, Jimenez followed that rule to a ‘T.’ He hit 11 fairways and 17 greens in regulation on his way to a bogey-free round. But he still needed 33 putts — fitting on a golf course where the Will Rogers Shrine up on Cheyenne Mountain dictates the direction of every putt, and often makes players see things they can’t believe.
“You need a little more faith, because they don’t break the way they look,” Goydos said. “Kind of like those fun houses where the thing’s rolling uphill.”
Tim Petrovic played a morning round and had the best score of the day, shooting 30 on the front nine to finish with a 65 and get to 3 under.
The weather was calmer this afternoon than the one before, though outside of Goydos, most of the late starters struggled.
That included Rocco Mediate, who bogeyed four of his first seven holes en route to a 74 that left him seven shots back.
And Bernhard Langer, who has never finished outside the top 25 at a senior major but shot 76 to head to the weekend 13 shots out of the lead.
Then there was Smoltz.
When he drained a 20 footer for birdie on No. 2, he got a huge round of applause, doffed his cap and pumped his fist to celebrate his first birdie of the week.
“I felt like if I didn’t birdie a hole over two days, it would’ve been an empty feeling,” he said.
The chip-in on 12 was a highlight, and he even saved par on the long par-4 17th after playing his third shot from the driving range, well left of the fairway. Smoltz played his final nine holes in 2-over 36. His 77 was better than 29 players, with about a dozen still finishing their rounds.
"For me, personally, it was kind of big to shoot 77 after shooting 85,” Smoltz said. “I saw a lot of scores like that. (The course) brought down a lot of great golfers.”