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AT&T Champions Classic: Sindelar maintains lead in round two

Pooley shoots 65 to move into second place

Posted: March 18, 2009 7:12 p.m.
Updated: March 14, 2009 7:30 p.m.
 
First-round leader Joey Sindelar shot a 2-under-par 70 to finish 36 holes of the AT&T Champions Classic at Valencia Country Club at 10-under-par 134.

Don Pooley fired a 7-under-par 65 to move from an 18th-place tie after the first round into sole possession of second place, one shot back of Sindelar. Pooley is followed by Jay Haas in third place at 8-under par and Steve Thomas in fourth position at 7-under-par. Rounding out the top five are Tim Simpson and Bruce Lietzke, both at 6-under-par 138.

Sindelar's round included a stretch of four birdies over five holes en route to a 33 on the back nine to take the lead back from Pooley. Sindelar shot a 1-over-par 37 on the front nine.

"I didn't hit the ball well today, but I hit enough good ones and made a few putts. I'm making some in that 6-to-20 foot range," Sindelar said. "It would have been great to put some distance between me and the field. The birdies on the back nine really saved me."

No player has ever won wire-to-wire in this event at Valencia Country Club. In 2004, Gil Morgan led all three rounds but was tied with four other players after an opening round 67.

Sunday's final round in the $1.6 million AT&T Champions Classic starts at 10:15 a.m. Tickets for the Champions Tour event are on sale for $15 at the event entry to Valencia Country Club off of Tourney Road.

Saturday Notebook:
Joey Sindelar will try to win his first Champions Tour event tomorrow. His last win on the PGA TOUR came at the 2004 Wachovia Championship in Charlotte. Sindelar is making his 23rd career start on the Champions Tour this week. John Brodie (1991), John Bland (1995), Gil Morgan (1996), Joe Inman (1998), Tom Purtzer (2003) and Des Smyth (2005) all claimed their first Champions Tour titles at this event. Sindelar didn't claim his first of seven PGA TOUR titles until his 51st career start (1985 Greater Greensboro Open.

This is the first time in his Champions Tour career that Joey Sindelar has held a lead going into the final round and the second time he's been in the final grouping in his Champions Tour career (2008 Dick's Sporting Goods Open). Here's his career record on the PGA TOUR when leading going into the final round:

Year    Event                          After Saturday                         Finish Position
1984   Bank of Boston Classic    1 over Archer/Peete                   T2
1985   B.C. Open                     tie with Lietzke                         1st
1987   B.C. Open                     8 over Sluman                          1st
1987   Centel Classic                tie with Sieckmann/Clearwater    T2
1998   Honda Classic                1 over K. Brown                        1st
1992   Memorial Tournament      3 over Maggert/Brooks               T3

Joey Sindelar is also shooting to become only the second wire-to-wire winner in tournament history. Joe Inman held sole possession from start to finish at Wilshire Country Club in 2000. Sindelar claimed the 1987 B.C. Open on the PGA TOUR in wire-to-wire fashion.

Don Pooley's 7-under 65 was the low round of the day and was his best score on the Champions Tour since posting 65 in Round 2 of last year's Allianz Championship. Pooley jumped up 16 spots as a result of his play today and will be in the final grouping for the first time since the 2006 Constellation Energy Classic (T2). He's made just one bogey in his last 36 holes here at Valencia. Last month, Pooley was one stroke off the 36-hole lead at The ACE Group Classic and contended on the back nine on Sunday before eventually finishing T3 at the TPC Treviso Bay in Naples.

The winner of the AT&T Champions Classic will receive 240 points in the season-long Charles Schwab Cup race. Bernhard Langer, the current points leader in the Schwab Cup competition (569), is T12 through 36 holes this week. Loren Roberts (305) is T21 through two rounds this week and Mike Goodes (304) is T40 after 36 holes. At the end of the official season, the player with the most Schwab Cup points will earn a $1 million payout.

In the previous 19 tournaments, 14 have been decided by one stroke or in a playoff. Only seven players who have led or been tied for the lead after 36 holes have gone on to win. Four of the previous eight tournaments at Valencia have been won by leaders/co-leaders heading into Sunday. However, in three of the last four years, a player has come from three strokes or more off the pace on Sunday to win, including Denis Watson's seven-stroke comeback last year.

There were 12 rounds in the 60s today compared to 17 sub-70 scores yesterday. The field scoring average today was 72.253 today vs. 72.481 on Friday. The most difficult hole today was the par-4 No. 6 (4.506). The holed yielded just two birdies (Morris Hatalsky, Jeff Roth). For the second straight day, the par-5 No. 9 was the easiest (4.405 today vs. 4.354 yesterday). Overall, through 36 holes there have been 16 eagles made. Last year, only 18 were made by the field over three rounds.

Valencia Country Club's four par-3s routinely rank among the hardest holes on the course. Through 36 holes this year, they are ranked as follows - No. 3-3rd (3.297), No. 7-4th (3.228), No. 14-2nd (3.316), No. 16-6th (3.158). Here's how the three players in the final group have done on each of the holes through the first two rounds:

Player     No. 3     No. 7   No. 14    No. 16    Cumulative
Sindelar  even      even   1-under  1-under   2-under
Pooley    even      even   even      1-under   1-under
Haas      1-under  even   even      1-under   2-under

Don Pooley, Steve Thomas and Dan Forsman all had bogey-free rounds today.

Jerry Pate's 1-under 71 today gives him 11 straight scores of par/better at Valencia.

Defending champion Denis Watson shot 2-under 70 today and is in a T42 through 36 holes (+1).

Last week's winner, Eduardo Romero of Argentina, is also T42 this week through 36 holes.

Two players made nice recoveries today. Craig Stadler shot 67 today after posting an 81 in the first round. Jay Sigel shot 69 today after posting an 82 on Friday.

Nick Price withdrew from the tournament after his second round with a sore toe. Price finished 36 holes at 8-over 152.

Through 36 holes, Bruce Fleisher leads the field in Driving Accuracy (24 of 28 fairways hit)...Tom Purtzer leads in Greens In Regulation, hitting 29 of 36 greens (80.6%)...Mike McCullough has averaged only 25 putts for the first two rounds...Tom Purtzer has averaged 319.3 yards per drive of the four measured drives he's hit in the first two rounds.

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