By Dave Senko, Champions Tour staff
Weather: Early morning showers gave way to mostly cloudy weather with occasional sun breaks during the afternoon hours. Highs were in the mid-80s with winds from the WSW at 5-15 mph. The course has received 1.43 inches of rain in the last two days.
Craig Stadler followed his opening-round 5-under 67 with a 7-under 65 on Saturday to move into the 36-hole lead at the Encompass Championship at 12-under-par 132. Stadler’s 65 was one shy of the competitive course record (64 by Ohio State’s Tom Hoag/2010).
Also posting a 65 on Saturday was Bob Tway, who is currently in second place with Jeff Sluman at 10-under-par 134.
This is the first time Stadler has posted successive rounds in the 60s since last year’s 3M Championship in Minnesota where he shot rounds of 69-69-66 on his way to a T7 finish.
The last time Stadler held sole possession of the lead after 36 holes in a 54-hole event was at the 2004 SAS Championship, an event he won wire-to-wire. It was also his last Champions Tour victory.
Should Stadler prevail on Sunday, it would end a victory drought of 8 years, 8 months and 28 days and would break the Champions Tour mark for longest time between victories. J.C. Snead holds the record of 6 years, 11 months, 7 days (1995 Ford Senior Players Championship-2002 Greater Baltimore Classic).
Stadler’s win would also come in his 171st start since his last victory at the 2004 SAS Championship.
A victory by Stadler would also make him the 21st winner over the age of 60 in Champions Tour history and the first since Bob Gilder won the 2011 Principal Charity Classic.
A victory by Hinsdale’s Jeff Sluman (T2) would make him the first player to win in his hometown area since Bernhard Langer at the 2010 Allianz Championship in Boca Raton, FL. Sluman’s second-round 66 included eight birdies.
Tway, who is currently T2, two strokes behind Craig Stadler, is seeking his first win since winning the 2003 Bell Canadian Open where he defeated Brad Faxon in a three-hole playoff.
This is his 227th start since his win in Hamilton, Ontario. It would also end a stretch of 9 years, 9 months and 16 days since his last victory.
Of the nine 54-hole events on the Champions Tour this year, only three have been won by the 36-hole leader and none since David Frost won the Toshiba Classic in March. The others came in the two events prior to the Toshiba event -– Bernhard Langer (ACE Group Classic) and Rocco Mediate (Allianz Championship).
So far in 2013, seven of the 11 winners have played in the final group on Sunday. David Frost was the last to do so at the Regions Tradition two weeks ago where he beat Fred Couples by one stroke. Frost was also in the last group for his win at the Toshiba Classic and he lost in a playoff with John Cook at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai, the year’s first event.
The winner will receive 270 points in the season-long Charles Schwab Cup race. Of the current players in the top five in the points race, two are in the top 10 here, including current points leader David Frost (4th) and Bernhard Langer, who is currently second to Frost in the standings and T5 in the event.
Chien-Soon Lu is bogey-free through his first two rounds.
Russ Cochran’s streak of consecutive holes without a three-putt ended at 244 when he three-putted No. 4 on Saturday.
It was a nice turnaround for rookie Steve Elkington on Saturday. A day after shooting a 6-over-par 78, he followed with a 4-under-par 68.
Kirk Triplett has a string of 13 consecutive rounds of par/better, the best current streak on the Champions Tour. Jay Haas posted two more sub-par rounds to make it nine straight.
Steve Pate and his amateur partner, Lee Tenzer, ran away with the pro-am portion of the tournament. The pair had a 36-hole total of 25-under-par 119 in the better-ball format and finished five better than three other teams.
A total of 25 players posted rounds in the 60s at North Shore Country Club on Saturday, four more than in Friday’s opening round. There and there were 39 scores below par, eight fewer than in the first round.
The overall stroke average for the second round was 71.568 (-0.432) compared to the first-round average of 71.494 (-0.505).
The hardest hole was the par-3 7th (3.259). However, No. 17 was the second hardest, a day after ranking as the most difficult. There were no birdies on No. 17 on Saturday. The easiest hole was again the par-5 11th (4.543), yielding two eagles and 35 birdies. There have been six eagles and 69 birdies through two rounds.