By Phil Stambaugh, Champions Tour staff
Weather: Mostly sunny skies with high temperatures in the mid-70s and winds from the WNW at 10-15 mph. .
A total of 74 players (73 professionals, 1 amateur) made the cut (low-70 and ties) which came at 8-over-par 148. Last year at Turnberry, a total of 76 players made the cut at 8-over-par 152 from a starting field of 144 players. Chip Lutz of Reading, Pa., the winner of last year’s Senior British Amateur, earned his way into the field for the weekend with a score of 2-over 142.
Bernhard Langer and Mark Wiebe share the lead at 5-under-par at the halfway mark of the Senior Open Championship at Royal Birkdale. Wiebe carded a 5-under 65, the low round of the championship, making birdies on four of his last six holes. Langer shot 67 on Friday and also closed fast, holing birdie putts on three of his final six holes. David Frost added a second straight 68 and trails by one shot. Gene Sauers, the first-round leader, managed to post an even-par 70 on Friday and is T3 with Australian Peter Fowler and Ireland’s Mark McNulty, two strokes off the pace. Playing conditions were easier on Friday with plenty of sunshine and virtually no wind for the afternoon groups.
Bernhard Langer (68-67—135/-5)
-- Langer is making his 28th appearance in a senior major championship this week and has finished among the top 10 19 times in the previous 27 major events, winning only the 2010 Senior Open at Carnoustie and the 2010 U.S. Senior Open at Sahalee Country Club near Seattle. Of his five previous appearances in the Senior Open, he has never finished outside of the top 12.
-- Langer played at Royal Birkdale three times in his 29 career appearances in the Open Championship, finishing T9 in 1991 as well as T56 in 1983 and missed the cut in 1998.
-- Langer has played in 14 events on the 2013 Champions Tour with eight top-10s and a pair of wins, claiming both the ACE Group Classic and the inaugural Greater Gwinnett Championship, his 18th career victory on the Champions Tour.
-- He now holds the 36-hole lead/co-lead in a senior major championship for the fourth time and of the previous three, he went on to win both the 2010 Senior Open and 2010 U.S. Senior Open. Here’s a look at where’s he been in the Senior Open Championship after 36 holes:
-- Langer finished T13 at this year’s Senior PGA Championship, T10 at the Regions Tradition, 8th at the Constellation SENIOR PLAYERS Championship and T14 two weeks ago at the U.S. Senior Open.
-- Langer is currently in fourth place in the Charles Schwab Cup standings, trailing leader Kenny Perry by 1,217 points. He could trim the deficit by a little more than half by earning 632 points with a victory on Sunday.
Mark Wiebe (70-65—135/-5)
-- Making his sixth appearance in the Senior Open Championship this week and finished T6 at Turnberry last year.
-- Wiebe made two appearances in the Open Championship in his career, but none at Royal Birkdale before this week.
-- Wiebe has played in 14 events on the 2013 Champions Tour and has yet to register a top-10 finish this season. He’s suffered through elbow and back injuries for most of the year and his best effort came in mid-February when he was T14 at the ACE Group Classic.
-- Wiebe’s 5-under 65 today was his best round since posting a 64 in Round 3 last July at the Constellation SENIOR PLAYERS Championship at Fox Chapel Golf Club near Pittsburgh.
-- This marks the first time in his career that Wiebe has been in this position in a senior major championship.
David Frost (68-68--136/-4)
-- Frost is making his fourth career appearance in the Senior Open Championship this week. He was T15 last year at Turnberry, 6th in 2011 at Walton Heath and T14 in 2010 at Carnoustie.
-- Frost was T4 through the first 36 holes of last year’s Senior Open Championship, five strokes back of Gary Hallberg at Turnberry.
-- Frost made the first of his 21 career appearances in the Open Championship at Royal Birkdale (MC) in 1983 and also played in three other Open Championships on this course – 1991 (MC), 1998 (T44), 2008 (T51).
-- Frost is making his 14th appearance on the 2013 Champions Tour and has eight top-10 finishes, highlighted by two victories this year – Toshiba Classic, Regions Tradition.
-- In addition to his victory at the Regions Tradition at Shoal Creek, his fifth career title on the Champions Tour, Frost was T27 at the Constellation SENIOR PLAYERS Championship and T20 at the U.S. Senior Open. He did not play in the Senior PGA Championship.
-- Frost is currently second on the Charles Schwab Cup points list, trailing leader Kenny Perry by 1,091 points in the season-long race. With a win on Sunday, he would not only match Perry with two major titles on the Champions Tour this year, but he would also earn 632 points and cut into an idle Perry’s sizeable lead.
Second-Round Statistics at the Senior Open Championship
-- The last eight majors on the Champions Tour have been won by someone other than the 36-hole leader/co-leader. The last leader/co-leader after two rounds of senior major to go on and win was Englishman Roger Chapman at the 2012 Senior PGA Championship at Harbor Shores in Benton Harbor, Mich. Chapman was tied with John Cook after two rounds and eventually won by two strokes. Two weeks ago at the U.S. Senior Open in Omaha, Neb., Michael Allen enjoyed a five-stroke advantage after 36 holes, but eventually finished fifth.
-- Just four 36-hole leaders/co-leaders have gone on the win the Senior Open Championship since the event became official in 2003 – 2004/Pete Oakley, 2006/Loren Roberts, 2008/Bruce Vaughan, 2010/Bernhard Langer.
-- Here are the largest come-from-behind victories over the final 36 holes in a Senior Open Championship since 2003:
-- This marks the first time there have been co-leaders after 36 holes at the Senior Open Championship since 2006 when Loren Roberts and Eduardo Romero shared the lead at Turnberry.
-- Bernhard Langer and Mark Wiebe’s 5-under 135 total for two rounds is also the highest score to par to lead the Senior Open Championship since Langer and Corey Pavin were tied after two rounds at Carnoustie in 2010 with a score of 4-under 138.
Ireland’s Des Smyth made the biggest move of the day, jumping 59 spots into a T36 with a 1-under-par 69.
-- Defending champion Fred Couples again struggled with a 2-over 72 in the morning and his 36-hole total of 6-over 146 leaves him T46 heading into the weekend. Here’s how the other six former Senior Open Championship winners in this year’s field stand after two rounds: Bernhard Langer/2010 (-5)/T1, Russ Cochran/2011 (+4)/T29, Tom Watson/2003, 2005, 2007 (+4)/T29, Bruce Vaughan/2008 (+7)/T59, Christy O’Connor, Jr./1999, 2000 (WD), Noboru Sugai/2002 (MC).
-- World Golf Hall of Fame member Colin Montgomerie, a winner of 31 events on the European Tour, improved his score by one on Friday, shooting a 1-over 71. Montgomerie’s 36-hole score of 3-over par 143 leaves him in T23 in his first Senior Open Championship.
-- After only 10 players broke par-70 in the opening round at Royal Birkdale there were 17 rounds in the 60s today. The field scoring average on Friday was 74.340 (+4.340) compared to 74.453 in Round 1. Steve Jones had the only eagle today and it came at the par-4 5th hole. There were 306 total birdies as well. Yesterday at Royal Birkdale, there were six eagles as well as 271 birdies.
-- For the second straight day, the par-4 6th hole played as the most difficult (4.469) and yielded just four birdies (Tom Watson, Eduardo Romero, Fred Funk, Philip Golding). The par-4 5th hole played as the easiest (3.948) on Friday, giving up 58 birdies.
-- Gene Sauers leads the field in Greens In Regulation, hitting 30 (83%) for the first two days…Mark Wiebe has needed only 47 putts (1.31) for the first 36 holes…Jeff Hart has hit 22 of 28 fairways (79%).
-- Today’s second-round attendance of 12,218 sets a new record for any one day in the history of the Senior Open Championship.