A player who hits the ball long and with a high trajectory has to be favored to win The International, according to noted golf analyst and historian Ben Crenshaw, who also plays a little bit.
Crenshaw, after blistering the 7,503-yard Castle Pines Golf Club for a 4-under-par 68 Thursday that was worth 10 points under the Stableford scoring system used in this tournament, offered his insights into the potential champion."I think Freddie Couples would be a wonderful pick here this week," Crenshaw said. "He hits the ball so far and so high. You have to drop your shots softly on the greens here. Some shots are hard to get in the air, like your second shots uphill at number 9 and 17. If you're hitting a 6-iron instead of 4-iron, it helps.
"I'd look for the longer hitters to do well on Sunday. It takes a certain amount of length on this course. Joey Sindelar would be an excellent pick. He plays well here about every year. And (Coloradan) Steve Jones is a good choice. He's a fine player and he has some local knowledge."
Crenshaw, Couples, Jones, Mark O'Meara and PGA champion Jeff Sluman were among the survivors Thursday as half of the field completed its first round. The other half played on Wednesday.
The 78 qualifiers faced another cut in the second round today, with 54 of them moving on to Saturday's third round. Eighteen players will advance to Sunday's final round.
Meanwhile, the dreaded daily cut claimed a number of notables Thursday, including Tom Watson, Payne Stewart, Johnny Miller, Hale Irwin and defending champion John Cook.
Watson stood at minus-1 heading into the final two holes. He figured to need an eagle at the par-5 17th, or birdies on both 17 and 18 to make it.
He birdied the 17th, two-putting from 20 feet, to earn two points and move to plus-1.
At 18, he came within inches of holing out his 7-iron approach shot, but he lipped out his four-foot birdie putt and fell short.
"It doesn't matter how close you hit it if you can't make the putts," Watson said. "I had my chance and I blew it. It's the same thing I've been doing all year."
Stewart was eliminated in a playoff. Seven players at plus-2 competed for three spots. Stewart bogeyed the first playoff hole, No. 9, and was ousted along with two others.
On the next playoff hole, Tom Purtzer bogeyed, leaving David Ogrin, Richard Zokol and Mark Wiebe as the final three qualifiers.
Crenshaw and O'Meara both led the way with plus-10 scores and each won $8,750 from the daily purse.
Couples, Jones and Billy Andrade were at plus-9 and won $2,500 apiece.
"I would like to have saved a few birdies for tomorrow," Crenshaw said. "I played well. I kept it in play, hit a lot of good iron shots and kept giving myself chances for birdies."