FRISCO, Texas — The Senior PGA Championship wasn’t Stewart Cink‘s first choice for his first tournament after turning 50.
The potential prize would be a lot more than a consolation.
Cink shot a second consecutive 4-under 68 and trailed Padraig Harrington by four shots after the second round of the Senior PGA on Friday at the new Texas headquarters of the PGA of America.
Harrington followed his opening 64 with a bogey-free 68 and was at 12-under 132. Japan’s Katsumasa Miyamoto was three behind Harrington in his Senior PGA debut after a 69.
Steve Stricker, who won the first senior major of the season two weeks ago at the Regions Tradition, shot 67 and was at 7 under.
Making his PGA Tour Champions debut four days after his 50th birthday, Cink committed late to the event about 35 miles north of Dallas.
An eight-time winner on the PGA Tour, including the 2009 British Open, Cink wanted to make sure he wasn’t in the field at Colonial in Fort Worth, about 60 miles from PGA Frisco’s Fields Ranch East course.
He didn’t figure he would get into the Charles Schwab Challenge, and he’s more than happy competing against players he used to see all the time on the regular tour.
“When I didn’t get into Colonial, I was not too upset,” Cink said. “I was looking forward to playing here as a backup. So it’s been a fun week. It’s at least lived up to my expectations and probably more.”
Cink still wants to play on the regular tour, specifically try to keep himself in the running for the lucrative events with elevated purses that were a response to LIV Golf.
“I’m going to have to have a heck of a summer to get in those, but I want to try to get in those, give myself a chance,” said Cink, whose second round was much less eventful with five birdies and a bogey after an eagle, five birdies and three bogeys in his Champions debut.
“I think if I just converted to this tour right away and played the rest of the summer right away, and just didn’t give myself any chance to get into those big tournaments, I think I would look back and say, ‘Why didn’t I at least give it a shot?'” Cink said.
Stricker holed out for eagle from 88 yards on the par-5 14th and surged into the top 10, where he has finished in all eight Champions starts this year with two victories. The 56-year-old has a Champions-record 47 consecutive rounds of par or better.
“I expect to play well. I don’t know wherever that leads me, it will lead me,” said Stricker, who almost holed his approach at the par-5 18th as well. “But I expect to get up there and play well and I have confidence in my game and what I’ve been doing lately.”
Cink and his wife, Lisa, a cancer survivor who is caddying for her husband, both turned 50 recently. They celebrated her milestone in Las Vegas and Zion National Park in Utah before going to the Bahamas for more partying.
“We’ve been doing a lot of celebrating and having fun and just kind of kicking back,” Cink said. “Sort of remembrance mode. We’ve been thinking back about how, just feels like it’s been like this (snaps fingers) that we just got started on the PGA Tour and now here we are getting started on a new tour at 50.”
Darren Clarke, the 2011 British Open champion, and South Korea’s Y.E. Yang, a Dallas resident who won the 2009 PGA Championship, both opened with consecutive 69s. They are at 6 under with Alex Cejka (70) and Adilson da Silva.
“Yesterday, I didn’t play great and then finished off really strongly,” Clarke said. “Today I played nicely all day. Kept giving myself chances on the back nine there. Then made a poor swing into 16. Completely misjudged the shot into 17. So you make two late bogeys like that, that’s a bit of a sour taste in your mouth.”
A Brazilian raised in South Africa who is playing in the U.S. for the first time, da Silva reached 8 under before consecutive bogeys on the way to 71.
Defending champion Steven Alker is another shot back at 5 under after a 69.