AT&T Championship: Second-round notebookOctober 25, 2008
Phil Stambaugh, PGA TOUR Staff
SAN ANTONIO, Texas -- For the third time in the last four years, the 36-hole leader of the AT&T Championship has a total of 11-under 131. Jeff Sluman leads a Champions Tour event for the second time in his career, but there are seven players within two strokes. In early September at the WalMart First Tee Open At Pebble Beach, Sluman was a co-leader with three other players and went on to win by five shots.
Inside the Numbers 36-Hole Leaderboard Player Score 1. Jeff Sluman 131 -11 T2. John Cook 132 -10 T2. Mark James 132 -10 T4. Jim Thorpe 133 -9 T4. Bruce Fleisher 133 -9 T4. Tom Purtzer 133 -9 T4. Dan Forsman 133 -9 T8. Tom Kite 135 -7 T8. Larry Mize 135 -7 T8. Jay Haas 135 -7 T8. Gene Jones 135 -7 T8. Keith Fergus 135 -7
• Sluman is bidding for his third victory of the year. In addition to the WalMart First Tee Open At Pebble Beach, Sluman captured his first Champions Tour title at the Bank of America Championship near Boston. If successful Sunday, Sluman would join Eduardo Romero and Bernhard Langer as the third three-time winner on the Champions Tour in 2008.
• Sluman is also trying to become the sixth consecutive rookie to win the AT&T Championship. Craig Stadler (2003), Mark McNulty (2004), Jay Haas (2005), Fred Funk (2006) and John Cook (2007) all won this event when they were rookies on the Champions Tour.
• Second-round leaders/co-leaders have won this event 12 times in the previous 23 years. Since the event has been played at Oak Hills, only Haas (2005) and Cook (2007) have come from behind to win the AT&T Championship. Thus far in 2008, leaders/co-leaders heading into the final round have won 13 of 27 tournaments.
• Both Cook and Jim Thorpe made big moves up the leaderboard Saturday with 8-under 63s, the lowest rounds of the day. Cook jumped 19 spots into a tie for second. He's trying to successfully defend a title for the first time in his career. Lee Trevino (1991-92) and Jim Albus (1994-95) are the only other players to win on the Champions Tour in San Antonio in consecutive years. Four players, including Bernhard Langer last week, have already successfully defended titles this season.
• Thorpe's round jumped him up 27 spots into a tie for fourth. He's trying to win a tournament for the ninth consecutive year and is also trying to jump into the top-30 on the money list and qualifying for the Charles Schwab Cup Championship. Thorpe needs a second-place finish and some help to make it into the season-ending event. Gary Hallberg made the biggest move of the day. Hallberg's 7-under 64 vaulted him up 44 spots into a tie for 16th.
• The second-round stroke average for the field was 70.560 compared to 70.705 Friday. For the first 36 holes this year, the cumulative stroke average is 70.634 compared to 70.506 in 2007. There were 36 rounds in the 60s Saturday versus 30 sub-70 scores on Friday.
• The par-4 seventh hole played as the most difficult (4.373), yielding just three birdies (Gary Hallberg, Joey Sindelar, Don Pooley). The par-5 15th hole played as the easiest again (4.413), giving up seven eagles and 34 birdies.
• Haas has an opportunity to close the gap in the Charles Schwab Cup race. Haas is currently tied for eighth through 36 holes and can earn some valuable Schwab Cup points with a top-10 finish Sunday. Haas trails Schwab Cup leader Funk by just 97 points entering this week but Funk is tied for 41st through 36 holes of this year's AT&T Championship. Langer, currently in second place just 84 points back of Funk, is idle this week. Next week after the Charles Schwab Cup Championship, the player earning the most points will receive a $1 million payout.
• Through 36 holes, Bruce Fleisher has hit 25 of 28 fairways. ... Dan Forsman leads in Driving Distance with his four measured drives averaging 309.5 yards. ... Cook, Wayne Levi, Tom Purtzer and Scott Simpson have all hit 30 of 36 greens in regulation. ... Bruce Fleisher has averaged 25 putts per round.
• Fleisher made his second ace at the AT&T Championship, holing a 6-iron shot from 181 yards on the 18th hole. Prior to Saturday, Fleisher had made the last ace at Oak Hills, holing a 7-iron shot from 158 yards at No. 9 in the second round of the 2005 event. Fleisher's ace was the fourth of his Champions Tour career and was the ninth in tournament history.