FRENCH LICK, IN — Brian Henninger has never made much noise during nearly three decades as a professional golfer. He’d won two Tour events in the ’90s, and held the 54-hole lead at the 1995 Masters. He lost his Tour Card in 2002.
So seeing him tied for first coming to the 16th hole on Saturday at the PGA Senior Championship was a surprise to most everyone in attendance. And then he knocked one into the scrub on his 2nd shot on the Par 5, in such a bad place that half a dozen people looked for 10 minutes and couldn’t find it.
So here’s what happened at 16. 2 is in the shit, lost. 3 is the penalty. 4 hit the green, then rolled off and down a steep bank. 5 was a chip, short. 6 was on. 2 putts for a snowman. Triple bogey.
Now that sounds like the kind of hole you and I could have on #8 at Vettiner. Except we take mulligans.
But that’s the kind of experience many pros are having at Pete Dye’s Course in French Lick, a gorgeous piece of property set at Indiana’s highest point. The course is hard, even for these professionals. The average score is 4 over. Only five players are under par after three rounds, including Henninger.
The crowds at French Lick are polite, and it’s nothing like the crowds we see at PGA Championships at Valhalla. The terrain, for spectators, is tough as well. Sunday should be a terrific finish.
Here’s the leaderboard, plus some notes from the PGA. And photos from Paula Presley.
Colin Montgomerie 72-69-70—211 (-5)
Bernhard Langer 73-72-69—214 (-2)
Brian Henninger 74-67-74—215 (-1)
Scott Verplank 73-72-70—215 (-1)
Esteban Toledo 74-68-73—215 (-1)
MONTY ON ANOTHER MARCH
Colin Montgomerie is bidding to win his third major championship in his last seven appearances in majors on the Champions Tour. If successful, he would become the first player since Hale Irwin to repeat at the Senior PGA Championship (1996-1998) and also win this prestigious event in each of his first two appearances. Last year, Montgomerie followed his victory in the Senior PGA Championship at Harbor Shores in Benton Harbor, Michigan, with a win at the U.S. Senior Open in a playoff over Gene Sauers at Oak Tree National Golf Club in Edmond, Oklahoma.
HALL OF FAMERS IN MAJOR FORM
World Golf Hall of Fame members Bernhard Langer or Colin Montgomerie have won four of the last five major championships on the Champions Tour with Jeff Maggert’s win at last week’s Regions Tradition being the exception.
Colin Montgomerie’s three-stroke lead after 54 holes is the largest since Roger Chapman led John Cook by five strokes at Harbor Shores in 2012. Chapman went on to win by two strokes. Last year at Harbor Shores, Montgomerie was at 7-under 206 through 54 holes. His 54-hole total is the highest to lead a Senior PGA Championship since Michael Allen was at 3-under 207 after 54 holes at Canterbury Golf Club in 2009.
IT’S UNITED NATIONS AT THE TOP
Should Montgomerie repeat or Germany’s Bernhard Langer, Scotland’s Sandy Lyle or Wales’ Ian Woosnam claim victory Sunday, it would extend an unprecedented international Senior PGA Championship streak. The Championship had never had three straight international winners until last year when Scotland’s Montgomerie went on to win. England’s Roger Chapman started the streak in 2012, followed by Japan’s Khoki Idoki in 2013.
HOW LOW DID THEY GO?
Saturday’s scoring average for the field was 73.49 compared to 75.48 on Friday and 77.73 on Thursday at The Pete Dye Course. Just five players are under par through three rounds this year. Last year at Harbor Shores after 54 holes, 20 players were under par. The last time this few were under par was in 2008 at Oak Hill Country Club when no player was under par through three rounds.
Lee Rinker of Jupiter, Florida, the PGA Director of Golf at Emerald Dunes Golf Club in West Palm Beach, eagled the 384-yard, par-4 first hole. He used a 9-iron from 140 yards. Rinker is playing in his fifth Senior PGA Championship, and it is the second time he has made the 36-hole cut.
Bernhard Langer, in search of his first Senior PGA Championship, ignited his round Saturday with an eagle on the 415-yard, par-4 eighth hole. He used a 7-iron from 162 yards. Langer is making his seventh Championship appearance, and owns three top-5 finishes.
PRESIDENTIAL CADDIE GIG
Former PGA of America President Jim Remy of Ludlow, Vermont, is in the midst of his second consecutive caddie assignment for PGA Club Professional Ed Kirby of Wakefield, Rhode Island. Remy caddied for his friend in 2014 for two rounds at Harbor Shores when Kirby missed the cut in Benton Harbor, Michigan. This week, with Kirby making the cut, Remy will become the first PGA Past President to caddie 72 holes in any major.
HAAS MAINTAINS HIS PACE
Jerry Haas, the Wake Forest University men’s golf coach, birdied the 18th hole for a 72 and held his lead by three strokes among the 10 PGA Club Professionals making the weekend cut. Haas owns a 3-over-par total of 219. Ed Kirby is next at 222 after a 71.
KITCHENAID IN THE COMMUNITY
Downtown at the Rollin’ into Summer Festival, chef Christopher Covelli continued to entertain fans at the Demonstration Kitchen with cooking demos and interactive culinary tips today. Word has it he was also conducting some “culinary trivia,” giving audience members a chance to win tickets to Sunday’s Championship round. Fans kept flocking to the Experience Store, where one lucky couple found a pair of tickets inside a panini press.
Remember, the festival continues tonight and all day tomorrow, featuring a number of other fun activities and events, like local artisans, play areas for kids and live music.
Demonstration Kitchen hours of operation:
- Sunday: Noon-6:30 p.m. ET
Experience Store hours of operation:
- Sunday: 10 a.m.-7:30 p.m. ET