Tom Kite is brushing off the sting of missing his first U.S. Open in 31 years by playing well this week at the Booz Allen Classic at Congressional Country Club.
Kite, who failed to qualify for the Open at the Woodmont sectional Monday, shot a 2-under-par 69 yesterday to go along with his 68 on Thursday. He is tied for 11th place entering the third round.
"I'm pleased with how I am playing, pleased with how I am putting," Kite said. "Just got a lot more to go."
Kite won the U.S. Open in 1992 and finished fifth at the event in 2001 as a 52-year-old, but after shooting a 73-67 -- 140 (2 under) at Woodmont he will miss the major for the first time since 1973.
That didn't seem to be on his mind yesterday as Kite, who started on No. 10, was solid over his first nine holes, making bogey on No. 16 and birdie on No. 17. He opened the front nine with a birdie on No. 1, holing a 45-yard chip. He suffered a setback on No. 3 when his second shot ended up in the left bunker, and he needed two putts to make bogey on that hole. He made two more birdies on his final five holes to finish strong.
This is one of Kite's better showings on the PGA Tour this season. He has missed the cut in six of the nine events he entered. His best finish was tying for 72nd place at the Sony Open in January.
"The last month or so I've been playing a lot better," said Kite, who won this event in its first year at TPC at Avenel in 1987. "It's finally starting to show in some reasonable scores."
Kite has said this may be his final year on the PGA Tour. He planned to evaluate how he was playing midway through the season and make a decision on whether to remain on the PGA Tour or switch full-time to the Champions Tour. Kite demurred when asked what his plans were.
"We've got a lot of major championships coming up on the Champions Tour that are going to occupy some time," he said. "Obviously, I'm going to try to qualify for the British Open, and hopefully we'll be successful in that attempt. With the Senior Players Championship and the Senior British Open and the Senior U.S. Open, all those coming up in short order, I've got some work to do out there too."
No. 10 Ranks High in Difficulty
A lot of golfers struggled with the par-4, 489-yard No. 10, which ranked as the most difficult hole on the course yesterday. At one point, there were as many double bogeys as birdies at that hole (13).
After making a double bogey there Thursday, Adam Scott bogeyed No. 10 in the second round and felt good about it.
"I've hit two of the worst golf shots from the middle of the fairway there two days in a row," said Scott, who shot 68-67 -- 135 and is two shots off the lead. "Fortunately today, my ball stayed on the bank of the hazard and didn't go in. I managed to get bogey out of it, so I was pretty happy with it."
Ridings Can't Avoid the Cut
Tag Ridings had one of the more dramatic turnarounds. After shooting a 7-over 78 Thursday, Ridings made seven birdies and two bogeys for a 5-under 66 in the second round. It wasn't enough to make the cut, however. Ridings missed by three shots. . . .
Vaughn Taylor, who had one hole remaining when play was suspended Thursday, did not return to complete the first round yesterday morning. Taylor pulled a stomach muscle working out after the round and had to withdraw from the tournament. J.J. Henry, who shot a 4-over 75 Thursday, withdrew after the first round.