By NATHAN R. HUFF
GILROY – The Gilroy Cowboy rode into town firing last week, commanding the lead for several holes during the second round of the Siebel Classic in Silicon Valley. But George Archer’s trusty putter failed him in the last half of the tournament, and the former Gilroyan fell from the leaderboard, finishing nine shots back tied for 23rd.
It was a glorious run for the 62-year-old Archer, who surprised even himself by firing a four under par 68 the first round of the three-day tourney. He opened up Saturday by knocking down birdie putts on holes one and two to drop to six under and grab sole share of the lead.
“I think I ought to go to the clubhouse and have a beer,” Archer, who lived in Gilroy for almost 20 years, quipped after dropping a 15-foot birdie putt on number two. “I didn’t think I’d make two birdies all day.”
Longtime friend Rick Jetter, who met The Gilroy Cowboy on a Bay Area golf course 40 years ago, walked with Archer for several holes Saturday. “He has such a good short game,” Jetter, who owns Spring Valley Golf Course in Milpitas, said. “He’s got tremendous golf course management skills.”
But as time, and the wet, windy conditions, wore on, Archer lost his touch with the putter, missing a series of short putts. He three-putted for a bogey on seven, then missed a short birdie putt on eight. The problems continued on 10 with another three-putt bogey, and Archer dropped into second place on 12 after missing another makeable putt. According to Jetter, Archer said the cold weather was hurting his feel with the putter.
Archer struck back on hole 15, sticking his second shot just three feet from the hole and making an easy birdie to regain a share of the lead. However, disaster struck on 17, as the wind held up his third shot on the par five and the ball buried in a bunker fronting the green. Three putts later, the one-time Masters Champion took a double bogey, and despite a valiant birdie attempt on 18, finished at two over for the day, one shot off the leader.
“It was one of those awful days where I missed three very short putts,” he said, following the second round. “It was very hard out there, the greens were very crusty.”
Still, Archer said he was pleased with his round on a day when no one in the field broke par. “At my age I’m not supposed to be in the hunt but it was kind of fun for a while seeing my name on top of the leaderboard,” he said.
Unfortunately Archer, who is staying with his daughter Lynne in Gilroy, didn’t stay on the leaderboard for long Sunday. As the windy weather turned to steady rain, Archer had trouble finding the fairway, repeatedly pulling his drives into the soggy rough. Despite several good birdie chances on the front nine, Archer couldn’t get his putter going. He dropped three strokes on the front nine, and was off the leaderboard by hole 12.
The Gilroy Cowboy finished a respectable five strokes over par, taking home a check for $14,278. Archer, who says he only has a year or two left on the tour, will spend the next two weeks in Gilroy with his daughter Lynne, who is due to give birth to his sixth grandchild sometime next week.