CLIFTON, N.J. (AP) _ Tennessee kicker Al Del Greco shot a 3-over-par 75 to lead 26 current and former NFL players into the third round of the players’ portion of the Cadillac NFL Golf Classic on Thursday.
Del Greco’s 36-hole total of 1-over-par 145 was four shots better than San Diego center Dave Binn and five ahead of Seattle quarterback Glenn Foley.
Two-time defending champion Trent Dilfer, the Tampa Bay Bucs quarterback, was given an exemption for the first two rounds while attending training camp.
Scoring will start over with Friday’s round and the top 12 players will advance to a championship round on Saturday, when the low score that day wins the tournament.
Del Greco won the tournament from 1993-96, but has stumbled on the final day the past two years in losing to Dilfer.
Del Greco said his game has improved recently because of advice Dilfer gave him during a round together.
``What I have done in the past is I kind of get aggravated with myself and let it affect the way I play the rest of golf course that day,″ Del Greco said. ``I’m trying not to do that anymore.″
During that round, Del Greco lost his cool after a bad shot and Dilfer told him not to let it bother him.
``He hit two bad shots in two days and after the second shot I talked to him,″ Dilfer said. ``He was able to click off the emotions. Hopefully, it will make for a better competition out there.″
Binn and Foley had the best rounds on Thursday, 1-over 73s over the 6,816 yard Upper Montclair Country Club.
While Foley advanced to the third round, he will not be competing on Saturday. He’ll be in Boston to be the best man at the wedding of a high school friend.
While the players look ahead to their third round, the Senior PGA Tour players kick off their tournament on Friday. Among the fan favorites is Allen Doyle, who displays a distinctive swing.
It’s a homegrown, slap shot-type swing that can be seen on any public course _ or hockey rink.
``I get more and more people saying I’m their hope,″ Doyle said Thursday after his final practice round for the $1.1 million senior event.
``They see a funny, odd swing and they can identify with this guy,″ Doyle said. ``That’s nice that they will say nice things to you, but you still have to hit the ball and get it in the hole. There isn’t anything wrong with being unique.″
A 50-year-old who won the senior tour’s national qualifying tournament to earn his playing card, Doyle has become one of the most remarkable stories on the tour. In 13 events, he has two victories, a second, seven top-10 and 10 top-25 finishes. His earnings of $871,364 are second to fellow rookie Bruce Fleisher, the tour’s only three-time winner this year.
The money is something very new to Doyle. Unlike like most of the seniors on the tour, Doyle didn’t turn pro until 1995, and that was on the Nike Tour. He got on the PGA Tour the following year at age 47, becoming the oldest rookie in tour history.
Before turning pro, the one-time hockey player from the New England area made his living running a driving range in La Grange, Ga., earning between $30,000-$35,000 annually.
When time allowed, he played golf rather well. He won six Georgia amateur titles, played on two Walker Cup teams and represented the United States on three World Amateur Cup teams.
At each level, there were people chuckling at his game and swing.
``I was always the guy no one wanted to talk to,″ Doyle said. ``It was always (David) Duval, (Justin) Leonard or (Tiger) Woods or (Scott) Verplank or (Phil) Mickelson.″
Doyle is now getting his chance and he intends to make the most of it. With two daughters in college, he wants the money.
``For a guy who has played the tour for 25 years and has millions, it’s just a continuation for him,′ Doyle said. ``For a guy who has played a short period of time and has that opportunity, you have to seize it in those first few years or you don’t have it.″
The 54-hole tournament is being run in conjunction with an event for NFL players. Only five of the top 10 money winners on the Senior Tour are in the field, with Dana Quigley, Graham Marsh and Tom Jenkins joining Fleisher and Doyle.
Bob Dickson is the defending champion, having won last year’s event in a playoff with Larry Nelson. Other former winners in the field include Lee Trevino, Raymond Floyd and Bob Murphy.