SR. PGA: Murota, Tinning could keep a tradition going

BENTON HARBOR, MI. – Little known foreign players won the last two titles in the Senior PGA Championship, and that could happen again.

Japan’s Kiyoshi Murota shot the best score of Friday’s second, holing from off the green twice en route to a 6-under-par 65 – and is in a six-way tie for the lead at Harbor Shores. The other co-leaders included another unlikely candidate, Denmark’s Steen Tinning who shot 66. If either wins on Sunday they’d continue a trend started by England’s Roger Chapman, who won here in 2012, and Japan’s Kohki Idoki, the champion last year at Bellerive in St. Louis.

The present leaderboard, though, isn’t filled with golfing unknowns. Joining Murota and Tinning at the top are Tom Watson, Bernhard Langer, Colin Montgomerie and Bart Bryant. All hit the 36-hole stop at 4-under-par 138.

Watson, Langer and Montgomerie formed the showcase threesome of the first two rounds and traded hot stretches. Langer and Watson shots 68s on Friday and Montgomerie had 69.

“All three of us played well,’’ said Watson, “and the course played a little easier (than it did in Thursday’s first round). They had the tees up on several holes, so it was a kinder, friendlier Harbor Shores today.’’

“Tom had a great finish (tie for sixth) in the Regions Tradition and Langer’s always there,’’ said Montgomerie. “I felt if I was equal or around them after two days I would be quite happy. I was, and I am.’’

The Senior PGA, celebrating its 75th anniversary, comes a week after the Champions Tour’s first major of the season, the Regions Tradition in Alabama. Kenny Perry won there – his third major title on the 50-and-over circuit – but shot 75 Friday and barely made the cut.