CONOVER, N.C.(AP) Tom Jenkins shot a 7-under 65 on Saturday for a share of the second-round lead with defending champion R.W. Eaks in the Greater Hickory Classic.
Jenkins, in contention for his first Champions Tour victory in two years, matched Eaks at 15-under 129 on the Rock Barn Golf and Spa course. Eaks shot a bogey-free 68 after opening with a 61, the best score on the tour this year.
“My objective today was to try and catch up a little bit to (Eaks) and stay close if I could,” said Jenkins, a seven-time winner on the 50-and-over tour whose last victory came in the 2006 SAS Championship in Cary, N.C.
“I had to play my own game … playing one shot at a time and getting some birdies, keeping the ball in play and giving myself some opportunities.”
The 54-year-old Jenkins, who opened with a 64, made up ground Saturday with eight birdies, including five straight between Nos. 7-11 on the Robert Trent Jones-designed course.
The run of birdies put Jenkins in the lead briefly before Eaks made his final birdie on No. 14. Jenkins then dropped a stroke behind with a bogey on No. 16, but made it up on No. 18 with a birdie.
“All in all, it was a pretty good round,” said Jenkins, whose best finish in 2007 was a tie for fourth at the AT&T Champions Classic. “It’s going to be a fun day tomorrow, especially since R.W’s playing well.”
Eaks birdied the first two holes to increase his lead to five strokes, but made just two more birdies over the rest of the round as Jenkins made his charge.
“It was a very uneventful round,” said Eaks, who lost a playoff to Andy Bean in the 2006 tournament. “I think I was a little letdown from yesterday, because I had a great chance to shoot that 59, and it kinda rolled into today.
“I could say I was putting awful, but I’ve still got a chance to win the tournament. … Tom’s playing great and he’s putting wonderful. He’s going to be tough to beat tomorrow.”
Gil Morgan (66) was four strokes back at 11 under, and Mark Wiebe (67) was 10 under.