U.S. SENIOR OPEN
Kelly Rebounds From Putting Miscue to Regain One-Stroke Lead
June 30, 2018 | COLORADO SPRINGS, COLO.
By Ron Driscoll, USGA
Jerry Kelly, who was sailing along with a three-stroke lead on Saturday midway through Round 3 of the 39th U.S. Senior Open Championship at The Broadmoor, overcame a near-disastrous three-putt from 3½ feet on the 12th hole to retain the lead by one stroke over David Toms heading into Sunday’s final round.
Kelly, 51, who is seeking to become only the second player to hold the solo lead after every round of the championship (Dale Douglass in 1986), stood at 6 under when he hit his tee shot on the 207-yard, par-3 12th hole just over the green into the first cut of rough. He putted the ball from there to 3 feet, 4 inches, then lipped out twice from short range for a double bogey.
“I told you yesterday, I’m a jumpy putter,” Kelly said after the round. “I’m a very good putter, but those types of things happen to me. I know what I do in those situations, pick the putter up, bang it down on the ball and it squirts a different direction.”
Kelly dropped into a tie with former college teammate Tim Petrovic after the double bogey, and he fell behind when Petrovic made a tap-in birdie a few minutes later on the par-4 14th. But Kelly parred in, and wayward drives late in the round cost Petrovic, as he bogeyed three of his last four holes.
Kelly, a three-time winner on both the PGA Tour and PGA Tour Champions, will begin the final round at 2:45 p.m. MDT in the final pairing with Toms, the 2001 PGA champion who shot a 4-under 66, sharing the low round of the day. Toms, 51, who missed the cut in his U.S. Senior Open debut last year, is one stroke ahead of Petrovic, who finished with a 1-over 71 and is tied for third with Kirk Triplett, the 2017 runner-up who shot 68 on Saturday.
Petrovic’s sliced drive on the difficult 17th hole bounced down a cart path before rolling into the rough, where a youngster slid in and scooped up the ball. A marshal immediately marked the spot where the ball came to rest and Petrovic dropped the ball without penalty, good-naturedly asking the boy why he hadn’t kicked it closer to the fairway for him.
“When I got to the ball, it looked like [the boy] was really upset, so I just made the comment and he thought it was pretty funny,” said Petrovic, who won one event in his PGA Tour career as a late bloomer out of the University of Hartford, where he played with Kelly for three years. “I didn’t want to make him feel like it was OK to do it, I just wanted to make him feel like it’s not the end of the world.”
One stroke behind Petrovic and Triplett in a tie for fifth place are Paul Goydos (70), 2016 U.S. Senior Open runner-up Miguel Angel Jimenez (73), and Brandt Jobe, who tied Toms and 2010 champion Bernhard Langer for the day’s low round of 66. Jobe made a similar Saturday push in last year’s championship at Salem Country Club, where a third-round 62 moved him from 29th to third place, where he eventually finished. He moved from 17th to a tie for fifth on Saturday.
Davis Love III, who along with Toms is the only player among the top 14 to win a major championship (1997 PGA), is among three players tied for eighth place at even-par 210. Love got to 3 under, just off the lead, before falling back with bogeys on three of his last five holes.
Wilson Leads Amateur Chase
Jeff Wilson, 55, of Vallejo, Calif., shot an even-par 70 in Round 3 on Saturday to take a one-stroke advantage in the race for low amateur in the championship. Wilson, who started with rounds of 76-71 and stands at 7 over for the week, has a chance to earn a rare distinction: earning low amateur in both the U.S. Open and U.S. Senior Open. Just one other player has done so: Vinny Giles, who was low amateur in the U.S. Open in 1973 and three times low amateur in the U.S. Senior Open (1993, 1996, 1997). Wilson was the low amateur in the U.S. Open in 2000 at Pebble Beach.
Just behind Wilson, who leads the field in driving distance through three rounds at nearly 319 yards, is Mike Finster, who shot a 1-over 71 and is at 8-over 218. Both Wilson and Finster, 53, who played together on Saturday, have made two cuts in four U.S. Senior Open starts. Robby Funk, 55, who was low amateur in 2017 in his Senior Open debut, was the only other amateur of the 20 in the starting field to make the cut and is at 13-over 223 after a third-round 75.
Sutherland a Green-Hitting Machine
If Kevin Sutherland, currently tied for fifth, comes up short in his bid for the U.S. Senior Open title, his ballstriking won’t be to blame. Sutherland has hit 47 of 54 greens in regulation (GIR) through 54 holes, three more greens than any other competitor. On Saturday, he hit 17 of 18 greens, matching his total from Thursday’s opening round. Sutherland is tied for fourth in GIR on the PGA Tour Champions in 2018 and finished in the top 10 in GIR at the U.S. Senior Open in 2015 (3rd) and 2017 (8th). He also has two top 10 finishes in this championship in his four starts: he tied for seventh in 2015 and tied for sixth in 2016.
David Toms, who won The International at nearby Castle Pines in 1999 and is second through 54 holes:
“I think playing at altitude really helps me not get ahead of myself. I tend to rush a lot when I’m just playing golf and not thinking through my shots properly. And you really can’t do that here. It's all about really getting into what I’m doing one shot at a time. It’s really helped me over the years. And certainly I feel confident playing in this area. It’s a lot better than Shreveport, Louisiana this time of year.”
Jerry Kelly, on rebounding from his three-putt on the 12th hole:
“I could have put some distance, there’s no question. Those were two shots right there that just shouldn’t have happened and then I became more tentative after that. To hang in there and still know that I’m striking it the way I’m striking it, I’m ready. I think there’s a low [round] out there. You just have to hit fairways and then you have to hit very good iron shots. But I think it’s there, it's just a matter of someone’s going to do it.”
Kelly, on making the 5-footer for par on No. 18 to finish his round:
“In my head all I was saying is, this is when you show what’s coming. This is how you show people that you’re strong enough to do this. You make this putt and you go. So that's kind of where I was at with that one. I enjoyed that one.”
Davis Love III, on his mindset after slipping into a tie for eighth with bogeys on three of his last five holes:
“I’m trying to ease some of these putts up there. And I left some short and missed a few downhillers that I was tentative on. I think I’ve got to be a little more aggressive. And you're not going to win shooting 1- or 2-under tomorrow. So I'll have to get after it.”
Tim Petrovic, on battling his friend and college teammate Kelly in the final round:
“Our college coach [Gordon McCullough] passed away 20 years ago. I’m sure he’s looking down and saying I hope it’s ‘Petro’ and Kelly in a playoff tomorrow.”
Ron Driscoll is the senior manager of editorial services for the USGA. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.