Darren Clarke maintained his position at the head of affairs but he has three players for company as the leaderboard began to tighten on day two of the Regions Tradition, the first of five PGA Tour Champions Majors in 2021.
Clarke posted two birdies and a bogey in a one-under 71 to add to his opening 66 to keep his name atop a Major leaderboard some ten years after lifting the Claret Jug in 2011. The Dungannon man, who’s already twice a winner on the over-50’s circuit, sits at seven-under par at the halfway stage at Greystone Golf & Country Club, joined by Steve Stricker, Jerry Kelly and Germany’s Alex Cejka.
“Majors are majors, it doesn’t make any difference which tour they’re on,” Clarke said on Thursday. “You want to play well. You ask Tiger Woods, you ask Rory McIlroy, you ask Dustin [Johnson], you ask Mr. Nicklaus, you ask anybody, Majors are what they all want, and it’s the same out here.
“We all want them, too. There’s a little bit of added excitement, four-round tournament. I think it’s the first tournament I’ve walked since Pebble Beach last year, so my legs are a little bit sore!”
Despite a lack of game time, the 52-year old is sitting pretty in the $2.5million event where defending champ Stricker birdied his final hole on Friday in a three-under 69 to join Clarke at the top.
Cejka, who made the field as the first alternate when Jay Haas withdrew, followed his opening 68 with a 69, determined to take advantage of his Major start:
“I’m just grateful for every start I get,” said Cejka. “I know it’s tough. There’s only 80 guys every week in the field. So many old great players who are privileged out here to play. And I got to prove myself. And if I have to go back to Monday qualifier or do a top 10 to get me in next week, I will do whatever (it) is necessary to do.”
“I didn’t do anything dumb today, just hung around,” Stricker said which is ominous given in 2019 he pulled clear over the weekend for a six shot win. “We’re only halfway home, so we have a weekend to go.
“Someone’s going to probably bust out of this pack, I would imagine. The wind is supposed to switch directions for the weekend, so that will shake thing up probably a little bit, too.”
- Full scoring HERE
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