Ayrshire, Scotland – Gary Hallberg fired an impressive 7- under 63 on Friday to take the lead at the midway point of The Senior Open Championship at a very windy Turnberry.
Hallberg, an American with one Champions Tour victory to his name, finished 36 holes at 6-under 134 and is three shots clear of reigning Player of the Year and Tradition winner Tom Lehman (61) and first-round leader and 2010 winner Bernhard Langer (73).
Dick Mast (73), David Frost (73), Jay Don Blake (73) and Peter Senior (71) are knotted in fourth place at 1-under 139.
Roger Chapman, who won the U.S. Senior Open and Senior PGA Championship this year, withdrew on Friday. He had a sore neck on Thursday, but gutted it out during the first round. Chapman couldn't even make it to the first tee on Friday.
He had a chance to join Gary Player as the only players to win the Senior PGA, U.S. Senior Open and Senior Open Championship in the same year, but couldn't compete on Friday.
"I'm just so disappointed because history beckoned and I would love to have equaled Gary Player's record and I felt like I could have done well round here," said Chapman, who will be in the field at the PGA Championship at Kiawah in two weeks by virtue of his Senior PGA win earlier this year.
Hallberg's ascent to the top of the leaderboard is pretty remarkable if you consider where he was at the turn on Thursday. Hallberg was 5-over par after nine, but birdied four of his last five to shoot a 71.
"When I was 5-over on the first day after nine holes I thought, I'm not playing that bad," said Hallberg. "I was playing good but I just couldn't get it going. So I hung in there and played a great back nine; I think the 40 helped me because it turned me around mentally to go play aggressively."
On Friday, Hallberg 3-putted the second green for a bogey. That was his final miscue.
He birdied three in a row from the fifth, then, after pars at eight and nine, birdied the 10th and 11th to make the turn at 1-under par.
Hallberg birdied No. 13 and poured in a 40-footer for birdie at the 14th. He recorded his final birdie of the day at the 17th, and after Langer struggled a bit in the breeze, Hallberg's name sat atop the leaderboard.
Hallberg credited playing at the Renaissance Course in Scotland last week as an aid in his preparation for Turnberry.
"I had a great caddie last week," he said. "I asked him, 'How do you handle the wind over here?' He says, 'We lean on the wind over here.' And I said to him, 'So that's a good thing?' He says, 'Oh, yes, sometimes you need that wind to lean on a little bit.' And so I saw that as a positive. It kind of changed my thinking believe it or not. So today I leaned into the wind and it was favorable."
Fred Couples played his way into the tournament Friday with a 2-under 68. He is tied for eighth with Peter Fowler (72), Mark McNulty (75) and Michael Allen (74) at even-par.
Tom Watson, who won the Claret Jug at Turnberry in 1977, shot a 5-over 75 on Friday and is tied for 34th at plus-4.
Greg Norman, who also won an Open Championship at Turnberry, struggled to a 7- over 77 and missed the cut at 9-over par.
NOTES: Hallberg's only Champions Tour win came in 2010...He amassed three PGA Tour victories in his career...Norman wasn't the only big name to miss the cut, which came at 8-over. Bob Tway, Sandy Lyle, Brad Faxon and Senior Players Champion Joe Daley all get the weekend off.