Kite Flies To Top Of Board
By Ken Klavon, USGA
Town and Country, Mo. – After capping off a marvelous third round with a birdie on the 18th hole,
Tom Kite signed his scorecard and bolted to the locker room. He peeled off his sweat-drenched clothes, hopped in the shower before getting a bite to eat.
The mad dash was on.
|Peter Jacobsen had another solid round, but he lost his lead with two bogeys on his final four holes. (John Mummert/USGA)
Upon completion of the third round of the U.S. Senior Open at Bellerive Country Club Sunday, Kite wrestled away the overall lead from Peter Jacobsen with a splendid 6-under 65. Entering the final round, which was to begin roughly 45 minutes later, Kite birdied five of his final seven holes to stand at 11-under 202. Kite is five of nine when leading a Champions Tour event through three rounds.
Jacobsen, with two costly bogeys on the 15th and 17th holes, shot 2-under 69 for the round and trailed Kite by two strokes. Bob Gilder carded a 4-under 67 to moved into a second-place tie with Jacobsen. Two-time Senior Open champion Hale Irwin, hiding in the weeds, fired a consecutive 4-under 67 for a total score of 8-under 205.
"I had the feeling that someone on the back of the leader board would shoot a low round, and Tom Kite did," said Jacobsen while heading off to change clothes between rounds.
Players were scheduled to play 36 holes Sunday since rain washed out Friday's second round.
One under through the first 11 holes, Kite started sizzling like the St. Louis heat. Birdies on the 12th, 13th and 14th severely cut into Jacobsen's lead. At that point Kite trailed by one stroke.
Jacobsen endured a mishap on the 14th teeing area after hitting his drive. He tore his slacks and was forced to wear his rain suit, a detriment on a miserably muggy day since heat is absorbed on the inside.
It didn't seem to bother him as he knocked in a 6-footer for birdie to get to 11 under.
But then his game began showing cracks. On No. 15, he yanked his drive into the penal left rough. His approach shot stopped short of the green, absorbed by more junk. Jacobsen's chip lipped the hole and the ball took off on the sloped green. He settled for bogey.
On the par-5 17th, Jacobsen was again erratic off the tee. His drive went into the gallery on the left, then he hugged the tree-lined hole on his second shot. It was a mistake as a tree knocked down the ball. When he couldn't convert a 40-foot par save from well below the hole, another bogey awaited.
Jacobsen, who had surgery on his left hip to repair a torn labrum three months ago, said he didn't feel fatigued. Through three rounds, he felt he's played 45 of the 54 holes decently.
"Putting is the key here," said Jacobsen, who stroked 29 putts. "The greens are so fast."
The greens, incidentally, were running 12.6 on the Stimpmeter.
Gilder stayed in contention with five birdies, three of which came on the final nine holes. Irwin conceivably could have moved to the top had he not bogeyed the 10th and 13th holes.
In any case, on Saturday Kite said sometimes players get the urge to keep playing if they've done well through 18 holes. Now he'll get that opportunity as he guns for his first Senior Open crown.
"Hey, it's fun to chase a guy like Tom Kite. He's a hall-of-famer," said Jacobsen.
Story written by Ken Klavon, USGA Web Editor. E-mail him with questions or comments at email@example.com.