Watson takes early charge at Whistling Straits

Tom Watson shrugged off swing doubts to grab an early three-shot lead in the second round of the U.S. Senior Open in Kohler, Wisconsin on Friday.

The eight-times major winner fired a six-under-par 66 on a relatively calm morning at Whistling Straits for an eight-under total of 136.

Fellow American Ben Crenshaw carded a 67 to share second spot at five under with compatriots Loren Roberts (69) and Lonnie Nielsen (71) and Irishman Des Smyth (69).

First-round leader Eduardo Romero of Argentina, who opened with a 66, was also at five under with 14 holes to play.

Watson, whose glittering career includes victories at the Senior British Open in 2003 and 2005, was relieved to complete his round early in the day.

"It was better than yesterday and whatever wind we had was really not a big factor," the 57-year-old told reporters. "It's starting to become a factor now.

"The golf course was there for the taking if you knew how to play it. I felt for the most part it was pretty darn good but I made some awkward swings out there to hit some awkward shots.

"But I got away with them for the most part and ended up with eight birdies and two bogeys."

Watson has had to settle for second place at the U.S. Senior Open three times in the last five years and would dearly love to go one better at Whistling Straits.

"It would be nice to not finish second again and come back with that beautiful trophy; it sure would," he said. "I have had my opportunities in this championship and it means a great deal."

American Allen Doyle's hopes of an unprecedented third successive U.S. Senior Open victory were all but dashed after he followed his opening 83 with a 72.

That left him on 11-over 155 with the cut projected to fall at five over.

(Writing by Mark Lamport-Stokes in Los Angeles)

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