OWINGS MILLS, Md., June 28 (UPI) -- Walter Hall, with only one win to his credit since turning 50 in 1997, shot a 6-under 65 Friday that put him one shot in front of Tom Kite and Jose Maria Canizares after two rounds of the U.S. Senior Open.
"You've got some of the greatest ball strikers that have ever played playing in this tournament and I'm fortunate to be playing with them," said Hall, who came within one shot of the Senior Open record.
Hall was one of 30 players who had to return to the Caves Valley Golf Club course early Friday to complete the first round after a late-afternoon thunderstorm suspended play Thursday. Another storm rumbled through Friday and delayed things for an hour.
Hall, whose lone victory on the elder circuit came last year in Canada, did not make a bogey in posting his 65, giving him a two-day total of 7-under 135. Kite, who also was one of those having to finish his first round early Friday, shot a 4-under 67 to get to 136 while Canizares reached that total with his second straight 68.
Alone in fourth place at 5-under 137 was R.W. Eaks, who owned the lead after the first round with a tournament-equaling score of 64. He slipped back with a 73 Friday.
Tom Watson, Isao Aoki and Fred Gibson shared fifth place at 138 while Allen Doyle was at 139 and Ed Dougherty at 140. The other players to break par for 36 holes, all at 1-under, included Raymond Floyd, Jay Overton, Vicente Fernandez, Don Pooley, Gil Morgan, Lanny Wadkins and Terry Mauney.
Hale Irwin survived the 36-hole cut, but found himself far back in the pack at 147 following a 74. Defending champion Bruce Fleisher missed the cut at 151 while Arnold Palmer shot 82-85 and then admitted he was dejected at turning in such poor scores.
"The fans were wonderful," he said. "They were very, very supportive for two days. If it hadn't been for the fans and just some of my own principles, I wouldn't even have finished. But I've never done that. So I still have a clean record on that one."
Hall began his second round on the back nine and got going with three straight birdies beginning at the 13th hole.
"I never come to a tournament like this feeling like I'm, 'the man,'" Hall said. "This is the lowest round I've had in a Senior Open by five shots and I probably won't ever do this again. But I sure had my day in the sun today. This was my Tom Kite imitation today."
Kite took advantage of a course softened by the rains to fire at the flagsticks all day. He hit 17 greens.
"I actually had one thing that I've never seen at a USGA event," Kite said. "I had a ball plug on the green today. The greens kind of got a little bit soft. The rain we had wasn't much, but I guess it was just enough to soften them up a little bit. That is why there were lower scores out there today."
Kite is trying to win the Senior Open 10 years after winning the U.S. Open, his only major title on the regular tour. And he said he thinks physical fitness is going to be a key on the weekend.
"Especially if the heat builds back up, like it was early in the week," he said. "Being fit is going to pay huge dividends. This is a big golf course, it's a very hilly golf course, and there are some tremendous distances and some difficult walks in between the holes.
"So not only are the holes difficult to walk, but getting to the holes is very difficult. I look for somebody that's in good shape to play well this week."