Sunday, August 17, 2003

Thorpe ties senior tour record with 10-under 60

The Associated Press

EAST MEADOW, N.Y. - Jim Thorpe tied a PGA Champions Tour record with a 10-under-par 60 to take the lead after the second round of the Long Island Classic on Saturday.

With 10 birdies, Thorpe matched the record held by Bruce Fleisher, Walter Morgan and Isao Aoki.

Thorpe also broke his personal best of 62, shot on the PGA Tour in the 1985 Greater Milwaukee Open and on the senior tour in the Gold Rush Classic in 2000.

"My caddie told me he didn't think this course would give up many birdies, and that 5- or 6-under par would win," Thorpe said. "It's going to take more than that."

Thorpe's two-round total of 12-under 128 at the 6,797-yard Eisenhower Park Red Course left him two shots ahead of Bob Gilder, who shot a 66 to move to 10-under par.

Des Smyth posted a second straight 66 to get to 8 under, and Mike McCullough was another stroke back after shooting a 65. Fleisher, the first-round leader, followed up an opening-round 62 with a 72 and dropped six shots back.

Thorpe switched putters after tying for 60th at the Senior PGA Championship and for 47th in the Farmers Charity Classic.

He's now playing his fourth tournament with a shorter putter.

"My putter was beating me up about six weeks ago," Thorpe said. "When we reached the Ford Seniors Players three weeks ago, I pulled a new putter out of my bag. It was 36 inches long and I like to go with one that is 34. I went into the pro shop and had it cut down and wound up tied for second. That putter is definitely in my bag for good."

After shooting an opening 68, Thorpe still was not satisfied with his putting. "I went to the greens and practiced for 50 minutes," he said. "It paid off."

LPGA TOUR: Only lightning and rain could slow Se Ri Pak's mastery of the Jamie Farr Kroger Classic in Sylvania, Ohio.

Pak was 8 under through 13 holes before play was suspended because of storms during the third round. She went to 14 under for the tournament to take a two-shot lead over Laura Diaz after entering the day four strokes back.

"Every single shot, every single putt, I had a lot of confidence," she said. "Today was perfect."

She had everything working, making approach shots that left her with easy birdie putts. She made the tough ones too.

An 18-foot putt for birdie on No. 12 capped a run of four straight birdies and put her at 14 under.

Pak, winner of three of the last five Farr Classics at Highland Meadows Golf Club, recorded a 61 at the event in 1998 during her rookie season - a mark topped only by Annika Sorenstam's LPGA record 59 in 2001.

Pak said thoughts of another record did creep into her mind.

"What did Annika shoot? Fifty-nine?" she playfully asked. "Why not?"

A thunderstorm pulled everyone off the course just after Pak finished No. 14. She admitted she was disappointed she couldn't keep it going.

A day earlier, she wasn't sure she would be back for the third round. Stomach pains Friday made it hard to play and she thought about withdrawing.

"Here, for me, it's a little something special," she said. "I didn't want to give up."

Pak began her charge early, making birdies on five of the first nine holes.

Her tee shot on the par 3, No. 6 rolled to within a few feet of the cup. She tapped in for a birdie that put her at 9 under, and delighted the big gallery following her.

The South Korean has become a fan favorite at the tournament where she has won nearly $500,000 since her rookie season in 1998.

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