Chapman joined by Cook at top of US Senior PGA

5/26/2012 9:25:09 AM
Roger Chapman   (Getty Images)
Roger Chapman (Getty Images)

Roger Chapman was joined by John Cook at the top of the leaderboard at the halfway stage of the  US Senior PGA Championship by KitchenAid with the pair tied at seven under par.

Chapman followed his opening 68 with a second round 67 while Cook carded a five under 66 at Harbor Shores, Michigan, to lead the field midway through the first Senior Major of the season.

Hale Irwin shot his age with five under 66, finishing the second round two shots behind the leaders on a more forgiving day.

After a windy opening day, scores dropped by an average of nearly three strokes at the 6,822-yard course next to Lake Michigan.

"A lot cooler," Chapman said, whose first dropped shot of the week came at the par five ninth on his final hole of the day. "It was very hot yesterday for us English boys. It was 88 or something I think yesterday."

“Obviously I am very pleased to be at the top still,” he said.  “I maybe didn't quite play as well as yesterday, but certainly didn't make any real mistakes until the six at the last, I just 3 putted and it was just lack of concentration.  Didn't feel tired, but I think that we were out there for five hours or so, it takes its toll a bit.”

Chapman, sponsored by Speedy Services, the new title sponsors of the Wales Senior Open, has his new coach, Gavin Christie, with him this week, which has no doubt contributed to the fact he has missed only four greens all week and one fairway.

“Two years ago I lost my coach George Will who passed away.  And he had been looking after me since I was 13.  But he was pretty ill the last couple, two or three years, so it was difficult to go and see him and it was unfair to have him come out on to the golf course because he could only walk sort of 20, 30 yards.

“So I started working with Gavin Christie and we just basically are working on sort of hitting the ball lower because I used to hit the ball very high.  And we're just getting a bit of lag in the golf swing and getting more compression on the ball to get a more penetrating flight.
“So I think it's helped certainly with the driving and iron shots in the wind as well.  Sort of a normal shot for me now is a knock down shot.”

Despite shooting his age, Irwin was so frustrated afterward he might switch putters before playing again.

"I know the greens are difficult, but some of the putts I missed today are not that difficult," Irwin said. "So I'm a little discouraged with that to the point where I might even change to another putter (Saturday) that's similar, but a different putter. I can't putt any worse."

Allen broke the course record with a 64, recovering nicely from his first-round 77. But Irwin was the focus afterward. He even arrived for his post-round news conference while Cook was still finishing his.

"When you can shoot your age in a Major Championship, they ought to give you bonus points," Cook said. "Lift, clean and throw or something -- for the rest of the week."

Irwin has won this Major Championship four times, although not since 2004. He was the 54-hole leader last year at Valhalla but finished fourth.

He has won a record 45 times on the Champions Tour, but not since 2007.

Steve Pate (69) and Loren Roberts (67) were tied for fourth, two strokes behind Irwin. Joel Edwards (67) and David Frost (70) were another stroke back, and Allen was part of a larger group at 1 under.

Allen, the 2009 champion at the Senior PGA, is the Champions Tour's money leader this year. No player has recovered from a first-round 77 to win this event, but Allen is at least back in the picture after a terrific performance Friday. He hit 17 greens in regulation after reaching only seven in his first round.
There are still two days remaining, and conditions could easily take a turn for the worse. Earlier this week, players were apprehensive about the difficulty of the greens on the Jack Nicklaus-designed course.

Irwin likened it to the 1974 U.S. Open at Winged Foot, which he won at 7 over par.

"There was a lot of disgruntled players in `74, and 70 percent of them were out of the tournament before the tournament even started," Irwin said. "I think we saw some of that perhaps this week when you see these greens. And they can be maddening. There's no doubt about it."