Kite Still One To Beat In Senior Open At Indianwood Lake Orion

At the halfway point of the 2012 U.S. Senior Open at Indianwood Golf & Country Club, Tom Kite was still really close to first place.

He was proving great starts are a great benefit -- he was 7-under-par in his first eight holes of the major championship on the wonderful Old Course -- and a bit of a curse.

Tom Watson was asked after the first round about Kite’s great start, and answered with a question: "What's he smokin'?" After 36 holes Kite was tied just one shot off the lead at 5-under, still seriously in the hunt but stuck at 5-under for the tournament.

Golf of the 72-hole variety is a marathon of course, and especially for the over-50 set. Kite can call on his long, steady money-making career on the PGA Tour to help him. He has experienced just about everything in golf, including having great starts and making strong finishes, playing in many, many majors and winning two.

Several players are within a few shots of the lead, and they include veterans like Tom Lehman, Corey Pavin, Bernhard Langer and even Roger Chapman, who in May won the PGA Senior Championship at Harbor Shores across the state in Benton Harbor.

The competition is tough, and the course will get tougher as it goes. Remember, this is a United States Golf Association event and they set up the course to get tougher as it goes. The greens will get harder and faster, and the rough will get longer and meaner. Add a little pressure, turn on the heat of a burning summer and we will see who can finish still standing.

Kite has the resume. He won 19 times in his PGA Tour career, including the 1992 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. And he has won 10 times among the senior guys, including the Tradition, one of the senior majors.

He's not especially colorful, unless you consider the color green. He was the first to $6 million in earnings, then the first to $7 million, $8 million and $9 on the PGA Tour in the days before Tiger Woods sent purses to the moon.

Kite is a money player, but he is also 62 and hasn't won among the seniors since 2008. We should also mention the guy he trails. It’s Lance Ten Broeck, a PGA Tour caddie for Tim Herron, who is showing he can play, too.

Ten Broeck is known as the guy who once caddied for Jasper Parnevik in a PGA Tour event, and also played in the tournament as a qualifying alternate. He and Jasper missed the cut, and Ten Broeck’s son helped loop the five holes for Parnevik that Ten Broeck couldn’t make while he was out competing.

"I thought I could make the cut, but I never figured I would be in the last group on Saturday," Ten Broeck said after a second-round 68.

Indeed. Kite, on the other hand, is not a surprise. He should be the guy to beat. He certainly understands the game of golf after his great start and the not-so-great finish to the second round.

"It’s a sadistic game is what it is," he said before heading to the driving range to figure out why he was suddenly whacking drives into the long grass. "It drives us crazy."


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