Broadhurst Carries Two Shot Lead into Final Round

Paul Broadhurst fired a three-under par 69 to take a two shot lead over Lee Janzen and Scott Verplank heading into Sunday’s final round.

Despite increasingly blustery conditions throughout the afternoon, players managed to find plenty of red during the second round of the American Family Insurance Championship.

After an early bogey, Broadhurst found himself tied for the lead with Steve Stricker and Brian Henninger at eight-under, but then birdied four out of six holes to regain his advantage.

“Just kept plugging away really. I had a good birdie at 6 and that sort of got me back, kick-started the round,” said the reigning Champions Tour Rookie of the Year.

“I had good birdies on 8 and 9. Perhaps left a couple out there on the back nine. Missed a good chance on 10 and then hit a poor driver on 18 really. There’s plenty of room right and I toed over underneath the trunk and it cost me a bogey. I’m still 2 ahead, so got to be happy.”

Broadhurst has two Champions tour titles to his name including last year’s Senior Open Championship. Both of those wins came in come-from-behind fashion. So far this season, just five of the 11 54-hole leader/co-leaders have gone on to win the tournament.

“There’s no magic to think about really. It’s just try and get some rest if you can and come out and hope the game’s in good shape tomorrow. The rhythm went a little bit with the wind, it always does. I find it difficult to keep the rhythm smooth when it’s really windy. I know what the problem is, so I can fix it for tomorrow.”

The highlight of the day for Broadhurst came when he made a 25-foot birdie putt in front of the raucous scene on 17.

“That was a beauty,” said the 54-hole leader. “I’d have been grateful for 3. Stood on the tee, make 3, finish 3-4. Instead I finished 2-5, but a 3-4 finish would have been good. And 17, middle of the green you’re happy. Just to roll in a 20-, 25-footer was a bonus really. But putted okay again today, so that was good. That was the key again, keep the putter going.”

That putter has been going well for Broadhurst all week as the Englishman is second in field in putting at 1.581 putts per GIR. Combine that with him hitting 31 of 36 greens this week and its no wonder why he sits atop the leaderboard.

“You know the standard out here, anyone’s capable of shooting 8 or 9 under. If somebody does that in the top 10, then they’re going to win tomorrow. I’ve just got to come sort out my own game. Try and go out and shoot a good score.”

The field played to a 71.39 scoring average, which is the highest scoring average for a day in the tournament’s brief history.

Lee Janzen, Scott Verplank, and Gene Sauers emerged from the pack with 66s. Janzen and Verplank find themselves at -10, while Sauers sits four back at -9.

Janzen said his game has been moving in the right direction and that helps keep him in a good mindset while on the course.

“I’ve just been trending towards playing a little bit better every week and being more, I think, in control of where the ball’s going, feeling pretty good that I’m going to hit it where I think I should be hitting it,” said the two-time U.S. Open champion.

“The more you do that, the more your score should get better. It doesn’t always work that way right away, but eventually it should work out. I guess I feel good enough about my game that I’m patient, that I’m not worried about a hole that everybody else is birdieing if I make par, it’s no big deal, or any adversity that comes my way.”

Steve Stricker and Fred Couples join Sauers at -9 and are well within striking distance.

“It played hard,” said Couples after Saturday’s 68. “I hit a bad drive off No. 2 right out of the box and made bogey on another pretty easy hole and then just tried to battle back. I put myself in a good spot. So if I can get hot tomorrow on the front, I think I’ve shot 9 under on the back nine in two days, whatever that is, even par on the front. So that’s not real good on the front, but the back’s great.”

Like Couples, Stricker found himself stuck in neutral during the middle part of the round. After starting the round with back-to-back birdies, the Madison-native made nine straight pars before bogeying 12.

Stricker’s round was saved when, after flying the green from 75 yards and hitting a poor chip shot (the above video), he drained a 12-foot par putt to steady the ship.

He then birdied 15 and 16 before parring the final two holes to come in with a 69 and sits three back heading into the final day.

After the past few weeks of intense golf, Stricker conceded that fatigue began to set in on him during Saturday’s round and that is something he will have to contend with Sunday.

“I had just a hard time hitting a few iron shots in there. A couple wedges that I normally hit in there to have some birdie putts that I didn’t get in there, a couple putts that I didn’t make. It was a little bit of a grind out there for me today. I felt a little lazy and lackadaisical at times, but hopefully I get it all rolling tomorrow,” said Stricker.

“I’ve been going to practice at home after the rounds and so I’ve been on my feet a lot lately and I kind of felt it today a little bit. But I’ll get out of here today and get a good night’s rest.”

Following the final group was a star-studded foursome that included Darius Rucker, Brett Favre, Derek Jeter, and Wisconsin-native and two-time U.S. Open champion Andy North.

The group played a nine-hole scramble with Jeter and Favre facing off against Rucker and North. The play was shaky at times, but there were a few highlights.

This, along with Rucker’s birdie on 14 and his tee shot on 17, accounted for the largest roars from the group.

“Well, they sort of set me up because I didn’t know there was going to be any people out here when I agreed to do this,” said Jeter who has only been playing golf for two years.”

“I’ve never played golf in front of a gallery, and then I showed up this morning and I found out it’s televised. So they set me up. But no, we had a blast. It’s great to obviously get to know these guys a little bit better. You respect what they’ve done in their respective careers. Like Brett said, raising awareness is what it’s all about. I’m happy that I had the invitation and I had a great time out here.”

Rucker, who performed a concert last night in Madison, was impressed with the crowds and said he preferred the cheers after his birdie putt to those he received on stage.

“I did look around on 18 and went wow, this is like the biggest entourage I’ve ever been involved in,” said Rucker. “Everyone was coming up. But there’s so many people here to watch the tournament and that’s a testament to Madison that people come out to watch the tournament, and they followed us and had a good time with us. You know, that’s just you’re seeing more money being raised. I think that’s what it’s all about.”

The match finished in a tie at one-under and $50,000 was donated to local childhood cancer charities.

Stay tuned to The Otter Room and our Twitter page (@otterroom) for continuing coverage of the American Family Insurance Championship

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