ABERDEEN, Scotland (AP) – Former Masters champion Craig Stadler saved par on his final two holes for a 3-under 68, leaving him the only player under par at the Senior British Open and giving him a two-shot lead over Greg Norman.

The last thing Norman wanted to do in his Champions Tour debut was take himself out of contention. Instead, the Shark fired away on a blustery afternoon at Royal Aberdeen. He finished off his 67 by muscling a 9-iron out of deep rough into 30 feet and holing the birdie putt on the 18th.

“I knew today I could shoot myself out of the tournament, and I didn’t want to do that,” Norman said. “I wanted to play consistent, steady golf. I’ve been doing that now for six rounds of golf going back to the Open, and in truth, I’m looking forward to continuing it.”

Stadler was at 1-under 141 as he goes after his third Champions Tour major.

Des Smyth had a 72 and was four behind at 3-over 145, followed by a group at 146 that included Tom Watson (71) and first-round leader Loren Roberts, who had a 74.

The wind was not nearly as strong as the opening round, when no one broke par, but it still got the players’ attention.

“Four birdies and a bogey around here are pretty good,” Stadler said. “I still will not say that I hit the ball perfectly, because I didn’t – far from it. But I just kept it in play and was patient and pretty much got as much as I could out of it.”

Norman has not played in six months because of back surgery until returning last week at St. Andrews for the British Open, where he tied for 60th. Norman is a two-time British Open champion, although Royal Aberdeen is not part of the rotation.

“I got to know the lines on the golf course,” Norman said. “You know where you’re hitting the ball, you know where the trouble is, try to keep it away from it. I’m starting to feel a little bit more comfortable with it, and hopefully I can keep it going the next couple of days.”

Smyth got into contention with an eagle on the 554-yard second hole, holing a wedge from 75 yards.

AP-ES-07-22-05 1648EDT

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