Alex Cejka is playing in his 18th major championship. He hadn't made a cut in his last four major starts dating back to 2004 until this week -- and now he's in position for a possible win.
The 39-year-old, who hails from the Czech Republic and is of German nationality, enters the final round in a tie for seventh at 3 over. Cejka says a conservative approach has paid dividends for him this week.
“You can’t be too aggressive," he said. "You don’t want to leave yourself a three- or four-footer on these bouncy greens."
Cejka has only had one top-10 finish in 16 starts on the PGA TOUR this year. Guess where that was, though -- the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.
“I’m still in good shape," Cejka said. "You never know. Three or four under Sunday), it’s possible. People have done it. It depends on the weather. The course is probably going to play similar and it’s going to be tough." – Helen Ross
In his first five starts of the 2010 season, Alex Cejka missed the cut four times. The only tournament in which he appeared on the weekend? The AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, where he finished tied for 10th, his best result of the year.
Maybe that should have told us something.
Cejka, who has not even found his way into the top three in his last 79 starts on the PGA TOUR, now finds himself in excellent position after two rounds at this week's U.S. Open at Pebble Beach.
With a 1-over 72 on Friday to go with Thursday's 1-under 70, Cejka is even par going into the weekend. He's currently tied for eighth with the afternoon wave beginning to tee off.
"Everything around par is great," said Cejka, who was born in the Czech Republic but currently plays under the German flag. "Just I didn't really watch much of the leaderboard, but you really don't need to, you just are grinding yourself and everything around par is great. Even if the lead should be just a couple under today, it's a long way to go."
Cejka, playing in a familiar knit cap that he has donned earlier this year at Pebble, didn't start off well, with a bogey on the opening hole. He finished his front nine with a double on the ninth hole. But he bounced back with birdies at 10, 11 and 15 to get himself under par for the tournament until a late bogey at the 17th.
Asked if he was playing more aggressive on Friday than in the first round, Cejka said no -- even though he reached only nine of 18 greens in regulation, compared to 15 of 18 on Thursday.
"I played the same shots off the tee, kind of same lines," he said. "Occasionally I just got to take the medicine and just go for the middle of a green, instead of being too cute and just short-side yourself in the rough. Then you've got a lot of work to do.
"But overall I'm pleased with the game so far."
He certainly had to be pleased with his putting on Friday. He needed just 26 putts compared to 31 in the first round. Part of the difference, he said, were the conditions of the green.
"Yesterday the greens were really firm and really bouncy," he explained. "So it was tricky to make your 3-, 4-footers on bouncy greens like this.
"Today it was a little bit smoother. The greens were holding a little bit better, so you can approach the greens and kind of one hop and then it kind of stops." -- Mike McAllister
Alex Cejka is in the midst of an adventurous – but effective – second round at Pebble Beach.
He bogeyed his first hole and double bogeyed the ninth to fall from 1 under at the start of the day to 2 over as he made the turn. The 39-year-old German has clawed back on the back nine, though.
Cejka made consecutive birdies on Nos. 10 and 11, and he has just rolled in another putt on the 15th to get back to 1 under for the tournament. He’s three behind Graeme McDowell, but still in great position to make a run for his first major on the weekend.
Cejka is playing in his 18th major and posted his only top-10 finish at the 2003 PGA Championship when he was fourth. He has yet to win on the PGA TOUR but tied for 10th earlier this year at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. – Helen Ross
A little late with this, but Alex Cejka had what should be the shot of the day earlier today with a hole-in-one on the par-3 fourth hole. Cejka aced the 178-yard hole using a 7-iron. It’s the third hole-in-one of the week with Billy Mayfair and Will MacKenzie each having aced the par-3 eighth hole with 7-irons from 170 yards on Thursday.
Prior to this week, the last hole in one at the St. Jude Classic was recorded by Michael Allen on No. 4 during the third round in 2004. -- Brian Wacker
ACES ON TOUR IN 2010
|Greg Owen||7||2||PGA West (Nicklaus)||Bob Hope Classic|
|Chris Couch||7||3||PGA West (Nicklaus)||Bob Hope Classic|
|Dustin Johnson||6||2||Riviera||Northern Trust Open|
|Derek Lamely||14||1||Monterey Peninsula||AT&T Pebble Beach|
|Adam Scott||7||3||Monterey Peninsula||AT&T Pebble Beach|
|Charles Howell III||7||1||El Camaleon||Mayakoba Golf Classic|
|Robert Allenby||13||2||TPC Blue Monster at Doral||WGC-CA Championship|
|Justin Leonard||13||2||Innisbrook (Copperhead)||Transitions Championship|
|Woody Austin||7||2||Redstone||Shell Houston Open|
|Lucas Glover||16||2||Redstone||Shell Houston Open|
|Nathan Green||16||4||Augusta National||Masters|
|Ryan Moore||16||4||Augusta National||Masters|
|Jerry Kelly||4||1||Harbour Town||Verizon Heritage|
|Davis Love III||4||3||Harbour Town||Verizon Heritage|
|Ted Purdy||14||4||TPC Louisiana||Zurich Classic|
|Ken Duke||2||2||TPC Four Seasons Resort||HP Byron Nelson|
|Ben Crane||13||2||Colonial||Crowne Plaza Invitational|
|Paul Goydos||13||3||Colonial||Crowne Plaza Invitational|
|John Senden||8||4||Muirfield Village||the Memorial|
|Billy Mayfair||8||1||TPC Southwind||St. Jude Classic|
|Will MacKenzie||8||1||TPC Southwind||St. Jude Classic|
|Alex Cejka||4||3||TPC Southwind||St. Jude Classic|