Second-Round Notes – Saturday, October 6, 2012
Weather: Sunny and pleasant with highs in the low 80s with winds from the SW at 5-10 mph. Lift, clean and place rules were in effect on first hole only.
|T3||Jay Don Blake||137/-7|
A seven-time Champions Tour winner and a player seeking his Tour title share the 36-hole lead at the SAS Championship. Fred Funk, who won his seventh title earlier this year at the Insperity Championship, and Steve Pate, winless in his previous 34 starts on the Champions Tour, share the lead at 8-under-par 136 at the Prestonwood Country Club. Jay Don Blake and Andrew Magee are just one stroke back, while 65-year-old Larry Nelson leads a quartet of players two back.
The forecast for Sunday’s final round is calling for mostly cloudy and cooler weather with a chance of showers. Highs are expected only to be around 60 with winds from the N at 5-15 mph with higher gusts possible.
The winner of Sunday’s event will garner 315 points in the season-long Charles Schwab Cup race. Tom Lehman continues to lead with 2,139 points but is not in this week’s field. Bernhard Langer (currently T15) trails Lehman by 246 points. Roger Chapman is third (1,756) followed by Michael Allen (1,531) and Fred Couples (1,530).
Steve Pate’s best career finishes on the Champions Tour have been a pair of T8s at the 2011 Senior PGA Championship at Valhalla in Louisville and at this year’s Toshiba Classic.
Round of the day may have been turned in by 65-year-old Larry Nelson, who shot a 6-under-par 66 and fell one shy of matching his age in competition for the first time. Nelson moved up 34 places thanks to his effort from a T39 on Friday. Nelson’s best finish here was a T5 in 2004. He has played in all 11 previous events here.
Steve Pate is not the only player in the top eight looking for his first career win on the Champions Tour. Rookie Andrew Magee is winless in 12 starts on Tour with his best finish a sixth place at the 2012 Principal Charity Classic. He won four times on the PGA TOUR, however.
Should either Steve Pate or Andrew Magee prevail on Sunday, they would join four other players who posted their first Champions Tour victory at this tournament. The others were Tom Pernice, Jr. (2009), Mark Wiebe (2007), Kenny Perry (2011) and D.A. Weibring (2003). Pernice and Wiebe’s victories came in their first starts on the Champions Tour.
Andrew Magee stretched his streak of consecutive holes without a three-putt to 208 on Saturday which is the third-longest streak this year on the Champions Tour. Corey Pavin had 260 at one point and Loren Roberts had a run of 210 without a three-putt.
Neal Lancaster, who is making his Champions Tour debut in this event, had a chance to climb into the top 10 heading into Sunday’s final round but he made a double bogey on the final hole to finish at 3-under-par and is currently T15. As a non-exempt player, a top-10 finish could possibly earn him a berth in next week’s Greater Hickory Classic at Rock Barn since he is currently not in the field.
Willie Wood’s streak of 25 consecutive rounds par/better came to an end when he shot a 2-over-par 74 on Saturday. One streak that Wood did extend was his string of consecutive holes without a three-putt. That streak is now at 200, second currently to Andrew Magee with 208.
In the 11-year history of the SAS Championship, seven second-round leaders/co-leaders have gone on to win the event (Bruce Lietzke in 2001, Craig Stadler in 2004, Tom Jenkins in 2006, Mark Wiebe in 2007, Tom Pernice, Jr. in 2009 and Kenny Perry in 2011). First-round leaders have won this event five times in the previous 11 years at Prestonwood, including three of the last five events in Cary. First-round leaders did not win in 2009 or 2011.
Mark O’Meara could be in line for his fifth straight top-10 finish should he turn in a strong performance on Sunday. O’Meara is among four players tied for fifth place. A good finish could also help O’Meara in his quest to finish in the top 30 and earn a spot in the season-ending Charles Schwab Cup Championship in Scottsdale, AZ for the top-30 players on the 2012 money list. After missing a long stretch in the spring and into a portion of the summer with a rib injury, O’Meara continues to move up the money list from the 89th position he was in just prior to his return at the 3M Championship in August. In his last four starts he has earned $311,785 ($77,946 per start) and has moved up 63 places to 36th on the money list during his run.
Steve Jones moved up 39 places from T54 to T15 after his 5-under-par 67.
Defending champion Kenny Perry is T9 and will begin the final round three strokes behind Fred Funk and Steve Pate.
The field averaged 71.925, a bit higher than Friday’s average of 71.438. There were 14 rounds in the 60 compared to 20 rounds on Friday and 38 sub-par rounds once again.
The most difficult hole on Saturday was No. 4 with an average score of 4.313 (+.313). There were just three birdies, the fewest on any hole. Once again, No. 17 was the easiest at 4.575 (-.425). There were no eagles in Saturday’s second round.