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Fujita shoots 66, leads U.S. Senior Open by one

By admin Jul10,2024


Jun 28, 2024, 08:14 PM ET

NEWPORT, R.I. — Hiroyuki Fujita shot a 4-under 66 in the second round of the U.S. Senior Open on Friday, taking a one-shot lead as he attempts to earn his first victory on American soil.

Fujita was at 11-under 129 at Newport Country Club. Richard Green, who shared the first-round lead with Fujita after both opened with 63s, followed up with a 67 and was one stroke back. Senior PGA champion Richard Bland shot a 64 to move into third place at 8 under, tied with Steve Stricker, who shot 66.

Stephen Ames (68) was fifth at 7 under. Two-time U.S. Open champion Retief Goosen had his second straight 67 and was among three players at minus-6.

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Not making the cut, which was at 2 over: Frank Bensel, who made back-to-back holes-in-one on Nos. 4 and 5 in the morning, but finished with a 74 that left him at 9 over.

“We’re going to just enjoy it,” the New York club pro said. “The original plan was to get some sleep and get ready for tomorrow, but won’t need to do that. We’re going to have a good time and kind of lay back.”

An 18-time winner in Japan, Fujita had never shot in the 60s in four previous PGA Tour Champions starts, never finished in the top 120 of a PGA Tour event or in the top 30 of a major. But he has played a nearly flawless 36 holes on the 7,024-yard, par-70 A.W. Tillinghast course.

“I was lucky yesterday, and I didn’t expect to play this well,” said the 55-year-old Fujita, who birdied three of his first five holes Friday. “I didn’t expect that at all. I surprised myself a little bit. But it’s only Day 2, and I want to continue to play consistent and not get too high or low and see where it takes me.”

Fujita was the only player to reach 12 under during the round, making a birdie on No. 2, his 11th hole. But he made a 4 on the par-3 fourth — his only bogey of the first two rounds — and then parred his way in.

Green made the turn from No. 18 to No. 1 with three straight birdies. He parred his last seven holes.

Stricker shot 66 for the second day in a row — his fourth consecutive nine at 33. But the 2019 U.S. Senior Open champion said it was like playing a different course than in the afternoon, when the wind often does a 180-degree switch.

“We came out with soft conditions yesterday. Well, today we came out with completely the opposite wind to what we’ve seen the course in,” he said. “I haven’t seen this course in this wind before. … It was a challenge. There are some holes that played a little bit easier, but some of the holes that played easy yesterday were difficult today.”

Defending champion Bernhard Langer, the 66-year-old who tore an Achilles tendon earlier this year, shot 72 and made the cut on the number. Rhode Islander Billy Andrade, who trailed by one stroke after 36 holes, shot 74 and fell out of the top 20.

“Advantage? A little bit,” Andrade said. “Sleep in my own bed, fantastic. Seeing people I haven’t seen in a long time, awesome. But when you get in the ropes and you go out there, you’ve got to hit one shot at a time and you’ve got to hit them well. If not, this place can make you look like a fool.”

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