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AT&T Champions Classic: Sindelar stays on top

Pooley one shot back heading into decisive round

Posted: March 15, 2009 2:20 a.m.
Updated: March 15, 2009 4:55 a.m.

Joey Sindelar watches his shot head for the seventh green Saturday at the AT&T Champions Classic at Valencia Country Club. Thanks to a second-round 70, Sindelar takes a one-stroke lead into today's final round.

 
If there is a playoff at this year’s AT&T Champions Classic, Joey Sindelar said he’d like to have something to do with it.

That might be a moot point, though, as the 50-year-old continues to lead the tournament.

Sindelar was 2-under in Saturday’s second round to move to 10-under overall at Valencia Country Club.

He has a one-stroke lead over Don Pooley going into the final round.

Sindelar, a close friend of Syracuse men’s head basketball coach Jim Boeheim — whose teams have played a total of seven overtime periods Thursday and Friday — laughed at the parallel given to this particular tournament’s past.

The last two have been decided with extra holes.

But Sindelar might not need to deal with that aggravation.

He rescued himself after shooting one-over on the front nine, having bogeyed holes No. 5 and 8.

“What a great day it would have been to get a little distance on the field,” he said. “But am I happy? Yes. The last 10 holes saved it.”

The last 10 included a bogey on No. 10, but he also closed out with five birdies.

This is the first time Sindelar has led going into the final round of a tournament since 1992 at The Memorial when he was on the PGA Tour.

Sindelar, who is nearing his first calendar year on the tour, has yet to win.

He finished tied for third at last year’s Senior PGA Championship, but was tied for second at last week’s Toshiba Classic at Newport Beach.

“To me, this is all about comfort zones,” he said. “At the beginning of the year, the scoreboard looked like it was on another golf course.”

Sindelar will be joined in the final group with Pooley and Jay Haas, who is at 8-under.

Pooley moved to 9-under on the day, birdying six of his final 11 holes.

He started the day with a birdie on the par-5 No. 1 and was bogey-free on the afternoon.

“Anytime you come around this course without any bogeys, you’ve done really well,” Pooley said. “It’s a very different golf course. You need to hit your irons well. You’ve got to drive well. The greens are very tricky and I putted well today. It all worked well.”

Pooley was tied for 18th coming into the second round.

The next biggest climb up the leaderboard was the little-known Steve Thomas.

Thomas, who earned his way onto the Champions Tour by gaining the last spot from the 2008 National Qualifying Tournament, was tied for 28th coming into the second round.

The big-hitting Mississippian went on a run between the par-3 seventh hole and the par-5 15th.

He picked up all his scoring on those nine holes, landing six birdies. He’s at 7-under, alone in fourth place.

“I like this golf course,” Thomas said. “It’s a long golf course and I’m a long ball hitter and it gives me a little of an advantage on the par-5s.”

On 18, his drive hit a volunteer and cracked his identification badge.

Valencia Country Club outside services manager Rich Contreras was 3-over on the day to move to 10-over in the tournament.
Tim Simpson and Bruce Lietzke are tied for fifth at 6-under.

cosborne@the-signal.com

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