NEWCASTLE, Northern Ireland (AP) -- Arnold Palmer, embarrassed by a round in the 80s, is close to giving up competitive golf and intends to reduce an already shortened schedule.
"I'm going to cut it back," he said Friday. "I hate shooting a round like yesterday."
As John Bland of South Africa took the lead midway through the Senior British Open, the 71-year-old Palmer shot a 2-under 34 on the back nine for a 75 -- a nine-stroke improvement on the previous day' 84, which tied for the worst round.
Bland shot a 69 for a 5-under 137 total to lead by one stroke over American David Oakley, who had a 3-under 68, and former champion Bob Charles of New Zealand, who had his second 69.
Bland and Oakley both bogeyed the par-5 18th, while Charles birdied.
Jack Nicklaus began with two birdies but managed only a 72 in a round he described as "a bit sloppy." At 142, he was five shots off the lead. Gary Player was at 145 following a 73.
Palmer returned to a limited tournament schedule after battling prostate cancer in 1998 and twice this year shot his age in a tournament round. He was visibly upset by his round Thursday and only slightly less so after his play Friday.
"Give it up? I'm getting close," he said. "I'll play occasionally. I'll always play the Masters."
He will not take his social golf lightly.
"If I don't work hard at that, I'll go broke," he said. "The social players want my money."
Palmer, who missed the cut, blamed himself for his poor performance this week.
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