McKenzie, Smith share Champions lead in Victoria
VICTORIA – David McKenzie birdied the final six even-numbered holes for a 7-under 64 and a share of the lead with Jerry Smith on Saturday in the PGA Tour Champions’ Pacific Links Bear Mountain Championship.
McKenzie, the 50-year-old Australian who Tuesday qualified to get in the field, began the unique run on the par-4 eighth and added birdies on Nos. 10, 12, 14, 16 and 18 to match Smith at 12-under 130 on Bear Mountain’s Mountain Course.
“I’m just trying to stand upright and play golf,” McKenzie said. “If I play well, it’s good. If I play bad, I’m unhappy, but it’s not the end of the world. That’s probably been the biggest thing.”
Making his third senior start after turning 50 on July 26, McKenzie is trying to become the first qualifier to win since Willie Wood in the 2012 Dick’s Sporting Goods Open.
“It would be nice, but my thoughts at the moment are just to keep playing,” McKenzie said. “I’ve got a qualifier on Tuesday if I don’t win or don’t finish in the top 10 here, so I’ll plan for the worst and hope for the best.”
McKenzie tied for second last month in the regular European Tour’s Fiji International.
Smith, tied for the first-round lead with Steve Flesch, followed his opening 64 with a 66. Smith opened with an eagle on the par-5 first.
“If you hit good shots out there, you get rewarded and you get opportunities to make birdies,” Smith said. “If you don’t, you’re really having to work to save pars.”
He won the 2015 Encompass Championship for his lone tour title.
“I’m glad to be where I am,” Smith said. “Last group is always good. I’ve been there a few times this year. I’ve had one good Sunday, one not so good, so maybe third time’s a charm. It’ll be tough, it’s going to be a battle out there.”
Jerry Kelly was a stroke back after a 66. Kelly won the Boeing Classic three weeks ago outside Seattle for his first tour victory.
Lee Janzen was 10 under after a 64, and Doug Garwood was another shot behind after a 67.
Flesch had a 70 to drop into a tie for sixth at 8 under.
Charles Schwab Cup points leader Bernhard Langer also was 8 under after a 69. Coming off a two-week break, the 60-year-old German star won three of the tour’s five majors and is tied with Scott McCarron for tour victory lead with four.
John Daly, a stroke back after an opening 65, had two triple bogeys in a 79 to tumble into a tie for 60th at 2 over.
McCarron was 6 under after a 65. He lost a playoff to Colin Montgomerie last year at Bear Mountain, and tied for second last week in Japan after winning three of the previous six events.
Montgomerie had a 68 to get to 4 under.
Nick Faldo was 1 under after a 68.