Tom Kite's 28 on the front nine is a new USGA record.
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images
Friday, July 13, 2012

LAKE ORION, Mich. (AP) - Tom Kite set a U.S. Senior Open record with a 28 on the front nine at Indianwood and finished a 5-under 65 on Thursday.

Corey Pavin's sixth birdie on his 17th hole pulled him into a tie atop the leaderboard, but a penalty pushed him back to the pack after completing his first round.

Pavin hit a chip after his ball moved back a fraction of an inch when he grounded his club on his 14th hole and that later cost him two strokes.

``Yeah, I agree,'' he said after watching slow-motion replays of the infraction with officials in a TV trailer.

That setback put Bernhard Langer and Lance Ten Broeck in second place, one shot behind Kite. It pushed Pavin into a five-way tie for fourth with Fred Funk, Jeff Sluman, Tom Pernice Jr. and Mikael Hogberg at 3-under 67.

``Still a very good score,'' Pavin said. ``I just like the way I played. That's the important thing now. There's three more rounds and lots of time to make it up and lots of golf left.''

Kite, who matched the lowest nine-hole score of his career on the front nine, is confident his window to win on the Champions Tour hasn't closed.

The 62-year-old Kite expects players like him to have success more than a decade into their career on the 50-and-over circuit because they're staying in shape and relentlessly working on their game.

``You probably haven't read, but 60 is the new 40,'' Kite said.

Kite, whose season-best finish was a tie for second four months ago at the Toshiba Classic, hasn't won on the Champions Tour was in 2008.

He put himself in a position to end the drought on the front nine with an eagle from 155 yards at the 424-yard, par-4 No. 4 with a blind shot over a hill.

``The gallery let me know it went in the hole,'' Kite said. ``So it must have run out nicely out of that semi-rough.''

Kite also had five birdies before making the turn, leaving his playing partners - Peter Jacobsen and Scott Simpson - to marvel at his seven-under front nine.

``I felt like the Washington Generals playing against the Harlem Globetrotters out there,'' Jacobsen said. ``He didn't miss a shot on the front nine.''

Simpson said Kite played textbook golf to have his way with a course with tight fairways, thick rough and quick greens the USGA set up to be the hardest on the Champions Tour this year.

``I certainly didn't think there was a 28 out there,'' Simpson said.

Jacobsen, though, saw a breakout round coming from Kite after giving him lessons of sorts with Olin Browne recently at Pebble Beach.

``We gave him a couple ideas, and they worked last week and they obviously were still working,'' Jacobsen said. ``We all know each other's games and each other's swings, so we can tell when something is a little off and help each other out.''

Kite had the best nine-hole score in a USGA championship. There were seven 29s, including three at the U.S. Open, most recently by Vijay Singh in 2003. Olin Browne had the previous U.S. Senior Open record, shooting a 29 on the back nine in the third round last year at Inverness.

Kite scrambled to save pars on the back nine, especially when his drive at the 490-yard, par-4 12th - perhaps the toughest hole on the course - went left and into water. He recovered with a jaw-dropping approach from 209 yards that set him up with a 4-foot par-saving putt.

``That was probably the best shot I had all day,'' he said.

Kite's worst swing cost him a relatively comfortable cushion, heading into the second round. His tee shot at the 195-yard, par-3 17th landed in ankle-high rough on a decline to the left of the green. His flop shot went about 2 feet, leading to a double bogey that turned his three-shot lead into a one-stroke edge at the time.

``This golf course is tough enough it will bite you,'' Kite said. ``Nobody's going to play 72 holes out here without having it jump up on a hole or two and kick `em in the rear, and it got me on 17. There are just some places that, if you miss it, you're going to pay the penalty.''



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