SAUCIER, Miss. — Corey Pavin birdied the first six holes in a blistering start Saturday in the Mississippi Gulf Resort Classic.
The rest of his day wasn’t as impressive, but the 53-year-old Pavin still walked off the 18th green with a smile on his face. He wasn’t about to complain about the 5-under 67 that put him in contention for his first Champions Tour victory of the season.
Instead, he focused on the six straight birdies as a good omen for the final round. Pavin has only made six straight birdies in a tournament one other time — at the PGA Tour’s 2006 U.S. Bank Championship — and he finished that weekend with a victory.
“It’s fun to do,” Pavin said. “That’s my longest string of birdies in a tournament ever. I got a little frisky on seven, trying to break my own record and I three-putted. But still, it was a good day and obviously a great start.”
Pavin joined Bernhard Langer, Roger Chapman and Joe Daley atop the second-round leaderboard. All four took advantage of Fallen Oak’s soft greens and ideal windless conditions to join a crowded leaderboard that features 14 players within three shots of the lead.
Some afternoon thunderstorms delayed the second round for more than an hour, but the rain couldn’t stop several players from posting low numbers. Pavin said he is preparing for a shootout on Sunday, though the forecast calls for a little more wind.
“There was no wind at all — calm as could be,” Pavin said. “The greens were a little more receptive. They’ll be receptive tomorrow, too. There’s going to be some good scores if the wind doesn’t blow.”
Pavin’s day could have been a lot better, but his drive on 18 found the rough and he had to settle for bogey to fall back into the pack. His first six holes were so good, he could afford a few errors down the stretch and still be in good position.
“It was a weird day after the first six holes, but I played well and hopefully if I go out tomorrow and play like I did today, I’ll be in good shape,” Pavin said.
Langer had a 65, Chapman shot 67, and Daley had a 66.
Esteban Toledo, Tom Pernice Jr., and Gene Sauers were a stroke behind the leaders. Toledo and Pernice shot 65 to match Langer for lowest round of the day.
Langer has already won once this year, at the ACE Group Classic in February. He has finished in the top three at three of four tournaments this season.
“I hit my irons a little closer today which gave me a little better birdie opportunities,” Langer said. “You have days when you feel good about your swing, but you never know if you’re going to make putts.”
Defending champion Fred Couples also had a good day, shooting a 66 to stay within striking distance at two strokes off the lead.
“I knew to have any kind of shot to do anything this weekend, I had to play well today,” Couples said. “There’s no saying you’re going to shoot 60 on Sunday. So I worked my way up the leaderboard and I think I’m in great shape. There are several other guys playing well, too, but I can’t stop them.”