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Big scoring in round two leads to Spittle taking control at 10 under par


When Canadian Rod Spittle joined the Champions Tour in 2006, he had a five-year plan. With a goal of retiring after the 2010 season, the 60-year-old former health insurance executive has now exceeded his expectations in professional golf by five years. Spittle’s 6-under-par 66 on Saturday gave him a one-stroke lead over 50-year-old Scott McCarron and John Huston, a past champion in Endicott, after 36 holes of the ninth annual Dick’s Sporting Goods Open. Spittle was one stroke off McCarron’s lead until he holed a 70-yard wedge shot for an eagle at the par-4 16th hole. He made six other birdies in his round. McCarron, the Champions Tour’s youngest player who has three PGA TOUR victories on his resume, also made six birdies and an eagle in posting a bogey-free 8-under 64 early in the day. Huston, the 2011 Dick’s Sporting Goods Open champion who also won seven career titles on the PGA TOUR, shot 4-under 68 on Saturday and his birdie on the last hole jumped him into a tie for second place with McCarron.

The Leader

Rod Spittle (-10)
Spittle is making his seventh career appearance at the Dick’s Sporting Goods Open and he finished T7 in 2013 after three straight rounds in the 60s at En-Joie Golf Club.

Spittle’s 6-under 66 today matched his career-best score at this event (2013/Rd. 2).

Spittle is making his 16th start on the Champions Tour in 2015 and has three top-10 finishes, highlighted by a solo fourth-place effort at The Principal Charity Classic.

Spittle is making his 138th career start on the Champions Tour this week and he’s gone 106 consecutive events since winning in his final appearance of the 2010 season at the AT&T Championship in San Antonio.

In the last of his five starts in the 2010 season, Spittle open qualified for the 2010 AT&T Championship and then defeated Jeff Sluman on the first extra hole of a playoff at Oak Hills Country Club for his lone victory on the Champions Tour.

Spittle has only been a Saturday leader on the Champions Tour one other time. In the first full-field event this season, the Allianz Championship, Spittle was tied for the top spot after 36 holes and eventually finished T9 at The Old Course at Broken Sound in Boca Raton.

The 60-year-old Spittle did not turn professional until 2004, working 25 years as a corporate insurance executive.

He played collegiate golf at Ohio State University with both John Cook and Joey Sindelar.

Miscellaneous Tournament Notes
For the ninth consecutive year, there’s a solo leader after 36 holes of the Dick’s Sporting Goods Open.

Rod Spittle’s 36-hole score of 10-under-par 134 is the highest two-round total to lead the Dick’s Sporting Goods Open. The previous high was 11-under 133 by both R.W. Eaks (2007) and Mark Wiebe (2011).

In the previous eight Dick’s Sporting Goods Opens, three second-round leaders/co-leaders have gone on to win – R.W. Eaks (2007), Eduardo Romero (2008), Bart Bryant (2013). No winner of this event has ever come from further back than four strokes (2010/Loren Roberts, 2014/Bernhard Langer) or further back than T8 position (Roberts) after play on Saturday.

Thus far in 2015 on the Champions Tour, 13 of the previous 18 events have been won by leader/co-leader heading into the final round, including nine of the last 10 events. The only one that was not won by the leader/co-leader was the Shaw Charity Classic where Jeff Maggert was T3 after 36 holes.

Both Scott McCarron and Stephen Ames carded 8-under 64s today, the best rounds of the tournament thus far. It was McCarron’s lowest score of the 15 rounds he’s played on the Champions Tour. Ames also posted his career-best score on the Champions Tour today. A resident of Vancouver, Canada, Ames has finished among the top 10 in his last three starts and his score today jumped him 41 places into a T4.

John Huston, who missed the entire 2014 season due to cervical dystonia in his neck, is bidding to become the first multiple champion of the Dick’s Sporting Goods Open (2011). The last player to make the same tournament their first two wins on the Champions Tour was Kirk Triplett who won both the 2012 and 2013 Nature Valley First Tee Open at Pebble Beach. Huston has made the most birdies over the first two rounds of the event – 13.

Jeff Maggert’s second straight 68 today put him in good position to close the gap on leader Colin Montgomerie in the 2015 Charles Schwab Cup race. Maggert, a three-time winner on the Champions Tour this year, is in third place in the Schwab Cup race, trailing the idle Montgomerie by 269 points. Bernhard Langer, last year’s Schwab Cup winner, who is currently in second place in the Schwab Cup standings, is T32 after 36 holes this week and needs a big rally tomorrow to finish among the top 10 and collect any points this week. He trails Montgomerie by 166 points.

Today’s stroke average was 70.797 compared to 71.713 yesterday. There were 24 rounds in the 60s compared 20 sub-70 scores on Friday. Through two rounds, the 14th hole has played as the most difficult (3.226), yielding just nine total birdies.

World Golf Hall of Fame member 65-year-old Tom Kite, the second oldest player in the Dick’s Sporting Goods Open field, is the only professional with two eagles.

The winner has come from the last grouping on Sunday in every Champions Tour event since the Regions Tradition.

(Courtesy: PGA Champions Tour)