LA QUINTA — It's time to throw away the idea that the PGA West Stadium Course is too tough for the Senior PGA Tour.
In team play, the old guys can handle one of the most challenging courses in the country rather well.
On Saturday, conditions once again were ideal in the desert--warm and calm--for the second round of the Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf event.
Organizers lengthened some holes and toughened some pin placements, but still, the birdies and eagles kept coming.
In the better-ball competition, the team of Don Bies and Bruce Devlin shot an 11-under-par 61, and Bobby Nichols and Dave Hill had a 29, seven-under, on the front nine, including five birdies and an eagle, to lead the scorching of the Stadium Course.
Those rounds merely brought them closer to contention as almost everyone scored well.
Gibby Gilbert and J.C. Snead, at 15 under par, go into today's final round with a one-shot lead over the teams of Al Geiberger and Dave Stockton and Mike Hill and Lee Trevino.
The Gilbert-Snead team put together rounds of 65 and 64 for a 129 total, the USC pair of Geiberger-Stockton had a second 65, and the Hill-Trevino team had rounds of 64 and 66.
A wide-open finish is anticipated, with the winning team earning $200,000 from the $1.1-million purse. A group of four teams, headed by defending champions Dale Douglass and Charles Coody, is at 13 under.
Orville Moody and Jimmy Powell, who split the $35,000 prize for winning the Legendary Division, are only three shots behind the leaders. With a 68-64--132, the pair finished six shots ahead in the 60-and-over division. Bob Murphy and Jim Colbert are 12 under.
Even the Demaret Division for 70 and up, playing a 6,300-yard course instead of the 6,800 yards the younger fellows played, did well. Freddie Haas and Fred Hawkins, who total 151 years, shot a five-under 67. Sam Snead, 82, played despite a pulled groin muscle. He and his partner, Johnny Bulla, 80, struggled to a 78. But when Snead sank a 35-foot birdie putt with his side-saddle style on 17, a large gallery went wild.
Mike Hill, who has 12 birdies in two rounds despite a stiff back, said he couldn't understand why the media complained about the attempts to make the course easier.
"In the first place, this is supposed to be a fun event," he said. "The fans want to see the old guys make some birdies. They can't make it tougher because of the guys 70 and 80. If it turned windy, some of them wouldn't even finish."
While his uncle Sam talks to and knows everyone, J.C. Snead is the silent partner of the leading duo. He leaves it up to Gilbert to face reporters.
"I told him I was going to take all the credit," Gilbert said. "J.C. said he didn't care."
Actually, they each made contributions, which is how it works in team play.
Stockton and Geiberger, old Trojan buddies, each played a nine, according to Stockton. Because of early television, everybody started on No. 10. "The back nine was mine," Stockton said, "then I turned it over to Al."
Stockton, an excellent putter, made four birdie putts, two of them 25 feet or longer, on the back.
"It was my turn on the front," said Geiberger. "We made four birdies in a row and I made the first three, one of them a 35-footer. Dave was inside two feet for the fourth one and I let him make it so it would go on his record."