Bland takes over Senior lead

Aug. 31, 2002 at 8:59 PM
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DES MOINES, Iowa, Aug. 31 (UPI) -- John Bland of South Africa rode a hole-in-one to the best round of his Senior Tour career Saturday, an 8-under-par 63 that gave him a two-shot lead through 36 holes at the Allianz Championship.

One of the most accurate hitters on the tour, Bland aced the 175-yard 16th hole during a bogey-free day at Glen Oaks Country Club. He birdied the 18th to turn in a score one stroke lower than his best round in seven years on the elder circuit.

"There was a lot happening out there, lots of us tightly packed," he said. "The birdie at 18 was a great way to finish. That ace was a real bonus."

Bland has a two-round total of 11-under 131, two strokes ahead of Bob Gilder and three better than Senior Tour star Hale Irwin and Jose Maria Canizares of Spain.

Irwin, who began the day in a tie for the lead with Graham Marsh, is aiming for his fourth win of the season and record 36th on the Senior Tour.

"The man to watch tomorrow will be Hale Irwin," Bland said.

Marsh followed a 66 with a 3-over 74 and was tied for 32nd at 2-under 140.

Bruce Fleisher, Gil Morgan, James Mason and Dale Douglass were tied for fifth at 7-under 135.

A five-time winner on the Senior Tour, Bland is no stranger to holing out or going low. He entered the season with 19 aces worldwide and once shot a 59 on a par-72 layout in Johannesburg.

"I played with Blandie last week in Park City, and he's playing pretty well," Gilder said.

Bland had five birdies between the third and 12th holes, sinking putts ranging from one to 12 feet. He then parred three in a row before dropping the first ace in tournament history at the 16th.

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