KA’UPULEHU-KONA, Hawaii — Jerry Kelly had a star-studded gallery Friday for the second round of the Mitsubishi Electric Championship.
And the Madison golfer gave Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, his partner in the upcoming AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am on the PGA Tour, and Rodger's girlfriend — now-retired race car driver Danica Patrick — quite a show. Kelly even pulled a celebration or two out of Rodgers' toolbox.
The defending champion had reason to celebrate, matching his career-low round on PGA Tour Champions with an 8-under-par 64 and moving into position to chase down a second straight victory in the senior circuit's season-opening event. At 9-under 135 through 36 holes, Kelly stands three shots behind David Toms, who threatened to lap the field after his second straight 65 left him four shots ahead of Tom Lehman and Joe Durant.
None of them had an NFL quarterback or a pioneering driver in his gallery.
So Kelly made the most of it after his eagle 3 on No. 4 got him to 3-under and served as a catalyst for his bogey-free round. On his way to the fifth tee, Kelly broke into Rodgers' famed discount double-check touchdown celebration.
"Aaron likes to keep things up and keep it going," Kelly said. "I like bringing a little football atmosphere to golf. You know, just trying to keep up with his game and what he can do, you know, I'm just scratching the bottom of a shoe. It's kind of fun to have him out here."
Kelly seemed to feed off having his high-profile friend in the gallery.
His eagle fell between birdies on Nos. 2 and 7 and helped Kelly make the turn in 4-under 32. He went birdie-birdie to start the back nine, added a birdie at the par-5 14th hole and another at the par-3 16th hole, holding a share of the lead at one point before Toms got his round going.
Kelly credited the work of swing coach Jim Schuman and trainer Dr. Harry Sese for starting him on the road to recovery following November knee surgery. He credited a subtle change in his approach to following the swing through impact for the swift results following an opening 71.
"We had to find one thing and I just kind of quieted my eyes down and kept it at impact a little bit longer, and lo and behold, my club caught up to my eyes and I could actually feel it going past me," said Kelly, who rallied from two shots down after 36 holes a year ago to beat Colin Montgomerie by one shot.
"It was one of those things, I know I turned around a lot, but I just have to have quiet eyes. My body can move, but my eyes can't, so that was a great thing to find."
Madison's Steve Stricker struggled to a 74 and fell 21 spots into a tie for 37th at even-par 144.