American Scott Dunlap prepared for the U.S. Senior Open in an unconventional manner, and it paid off as he snared the clubhouse lead in the second round in steamy Oklahoma on Friday.
Dunlap spent last week playing some of Ireland’s great courses, following an unsuccessful quest to qualify for the British Open, and it left him in a relaxed state of mind for perhaps the biggest championship in over-50s golf.
He shot a 68 for a five-under-par 137 halfway total, one stroke ahead of fellow American Gene Sauers with half the field back in the Oak Hill National clubhouse in Edmond.
Jeff Sluman, whose major title came at Oak Hill in the 1988 PGA Championship, was among a group two strokes behind, while Fiji’s Vijay Singh trailed by three in just his second event on the Champions Tour.
“I have been particularly good with the putter this week, made all my short ones,” Dunlap, 50, told reporters.
He never won on the PGA Tour, but had a solid career, three-times finishing third, including at the 2000 Players Championship.
He has never felt compelled to grind away for hours on the range, and these days limits his practice even more to stave off wear and tear on his body.
“I have never understood how golf was something you were innately going to unlearn if you didn’t continue to do it every day,” he said.
“Then at this age, you know, the more I hit balls, the more my left thumb or left wrist I feel.
“I have got friends that are the golf equivalent of basketball gym rats. That works for them. It doesn't work for me.
“I love it while I'm here, but I will put in my five or six hours, and then it's time to go to the movies, go home, watch soccer, do whatever, but not be at the golf course.”
Singh, meanwhile, said he was not quite ready to turn his back on the regular tour, where he has won 34 times.
“I just want to come out here and see how it's like and hopefully take home the trophy on Sunday,” he said.
(Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina,; Editing by Gene Cherry)