Whatever unease Paul Broadhurst felt following a near 2-1/2 hour weather delay quickly evaporated once he hit his first tee shot into the middle of the narrow fairway on the fifth hole at Oak Hill Country Club.
The defending champion felt even better to come out of a second weather delay and par the final three holes for a bogey-free round and a two-shot lead in the Senior PGA Championship.
“I guess determination,” the 53-year-old Englishman said in describing what it took to shoot a 3-under 67 and move to 6-under 204 entering the final day of the major tournament.
It took some patience, as well, for Broadhurst to navigate a narrow course with tiny greens and amid ever-changing weather conditions to extend his bogey-free streak to 38 consecutive holes. He’s in position to become the tournament’s first back-to-back winner since Colin Montgomerie in 2014-15, and eighth in the event’s 80-year history.
As Broadhurst noted, Oak Hill presents a far different challenge to the longer, but more wide-open Harbor Shores course in southwest Michigan, where he shot a 19-under 265 to win last year’s tournament.
“The emphasis here is on accuracy, no question,” Broadhurst said, before assessing how much more complete his game has become since taking three years off from professional golf before joining the senior tour in 2016. “I think it just shows I’m a lot more consistent than I used to be.”
The five-time PGA Tour Champions winner entered the day as the co-leader with Esteban Toledo, who tumbled into seventh at 1 over after a 74.
Broadhurst’s first two birdies came immediately before and after the first delay, which began just after 10 a.m. He birdied the 570-yard par-5 fourth hole before the horns blew to halt play. Broadhurst returned to birdie the par-3 sixth. 6. He also had a birdie 3 on No. 10.
The second delay began just after 3 p.m. and lasted just 40 minutes, extending the length of the round to nearly 10 hours.
Two-time U.S. Open-winner Retief Goosen was second at 4 under after a 67. Ken Tanigawa was third at 3 under following a 66. Tour money leader Scott McCarron shot a 67 to get to 2 under.
The 50-year-old Goosen, in his first season on the senior tour, noted he experienced nerves in finding himself in contention to win what would be his first title since the 2007 CommercialBank Qatar Masters on the European Tour.
“It’s been a while since I’ve been in this sort of position when the butterflies are flying a little,” said the South African who won seven times on the PGA Tour and 14 times on the European Tour. “In a way it’s great to get all the juices going. And it’s almost like you got to try and back off a little bit and not hit the ball too hard. It’s a good feeling.”
After a bogey-5 on No. 2, Goosen responded by holing a 15-foot birdie putt on No. 4, and then drained a 20-footer for birdie on the par-four seventh. He also birdied the par-4 ninth and 16th.
“I didn’t feel all that sort of stressed about the conditions or anything,” Goosen said about the breaks in play. “I felt there were birdies to be made out there.”
The third round began with hardly a breeze and temperatures in 60s. The day ended with a steady breeze and muggy conditions with temperatures reaching 80. Storms also caused a more than two-hour delay midway through the opening round Thursday.
McCarron hasn’t forgotten what happened at last year’s major. He was the co-third-round leader at Harbor Shores before being passed by Broadhurst and finishing in a tie for third.
“You’ve got to shot a 4, 5, 6 under probably,” McCarron said, looking ahead to the final round. “He came from back behind and played a tremendous round to win, so maybe it’s payback.”
Asked if a 6 under is possible at Oak Hill, McCarron said: “Why not? I mean, I felt I should have done that today.”