Faxon fires 67, trails Durant by 2 at Senior PGA
BENTON HARBOR, Mich. — Who’s surprised to find Brad Faxon on the leaderboard at Harbor Shores after Thursday's first round of the 75th Senior PGA Championship? No one more than Faxon himself.
Thus far, Faxon’s Champions Tour season has been, in a word, meh — no finishes inside the top 40 in his last seven starts and not a single subpar score in any his last 13 rounds.
“There was really nothing to predict this round other than I’ve played some pretty good nines," Faxon said. "I’ve had a couple of tournaments lately where I made more birdies than I usually do. . . . So I’m excited. I felt like I had good control of my swing today.”
Faxon one-putted half of his greens en route to a 4-under-par 67, two strokes off the lead of Champions Tour rookie Joe Durant. Among Faxon’s 27 putts included three cross-country bombs from 30-35 feet that not even a player of Faxon’s renowed putting prowess would have expected to make.
“The one at the second hole was . . . up a big slope and back down,” he explained, “and then at the third hole it was just as long — with more slope.
“You can look silly on these greens, but I made a couple of big putts early. You kind of just laugh a little bit because you’re happy to get those close a lot of times. When they go in, it’s a bonus.”
Colin Montgomerie called the putting surfaces at the Jack Nicklaus-designed, 4-year-old Harbor Shores “cloverleaf greens” — that is, one large putting surface divided into smaller targets, where, he said, “You don’t have to be Einstein to work out where the pins are going to be.”
The various levels are separated by not-so-subtle humps, ridges and mounds, which further accentuates the need for great iron play.
“They’re going to present problems for everybody,” said Faxon. “It’s not just to putt, it’s to hit an iron into. You can get some caroms off the slopes here that can go in the wrong direction — or in the right direction.”
Faxon hasn’t made the cut in either of his two Senior PGA starts, but he doesn’t hide his admiration for senior golf’s oldest event.
“I grew up in Rhode Island, playing golf, and my whole family was a golfing family,” he said. “The PGA professional, to me, was a big deal. I grew up with a guy named Fred Bruno, who was a pro at Rhode Island Country Club. . . . He was the third golf professional in an 80-year history of the club. Now there’s one guy there, so we’ve only had four pros in a hundred years. That’s a big deal to me.
“What else can I say. It is way bigger than any other tournament we play.”