Saturday, April 22, 2017

Gooch leads weather-hit Tour event

NEWBURGH, Indiana – Through 11 holes of his second round, Talor Gooch is the current leader of the Tour's United Leasing and Finance Championship at 4-under.
A morning weather delay due to lightning in the area pushed back second-round tee times three-and-a-half hours. Play was suspended due to darkness at 7 p.m.

Coming off two straight top-10 performances at the Panama Claro Championship (T10) and the Chitimacha Louisiana Open presented by NACHER (T5), Gooch continued his stellar play on Friday at Victoria National Golf Club with birdies on Nos. 5, 7, 9 and 10 before play was suspended.

“I made a good birdie on No. 7, par 3, tough hole and made about a 20-30 footer. On the par-5s I knocked it up there around the green in two and got up and down for birdie,” Gooch said. “I feel good obviously. Any time you can be in the lead of a golf tournament, good things are happening.”

After missing consecutive cuts in The Bahamas and Colombia, Gooch has regained his form to the tune of eight straight rounds under par on the Tour, including his 1-under 71 in round one on Thursday.

“My ball-striking has come around,” Gooch said. “For the last year, I’d kind of struggled, but it was a blessing in disguise because my putting and my short game has had to pick up the slack. For the last two or three months, my ball striking has come around. That’s a good combination.”

Jason Gore, Scott Gutschewski and Austin Cook share the current clubhouse lead at 3-under 141. Gore is the all-time leader in victories on the Tour with seven, and a second-round 69 has him in contention for his first win since 2010.

“I finally feel really healthy,” said Gore, who was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis but credits a new medication for his recent improvement. “I’m going to try to use my experience. You can’t rush things on a golf course like this. You have to be patient because it’s not going to lend a ton of birdies. There’s trouble lurking around every corner.”

Gutschewski joins Gore among the veterans near the top of the leader board after a 2-under 70 in round two, which was capped by birdies on his final three holes, Nos. 7-9. A three-time Tour graduate, Gutschewski took a break from the game in 2014 to recover from injury and finish earning his college degree, but he’s looking forward to being back in the hunt on Tour.

“It’ll be fun,” Gutschewski said. “That’s why we play to get out there and test ourselves under those circumstances and see what works and what doesn’t and what we have to work on for next week.”

Rounding out the trio in the clubhouse at 3-under is 26-year-old Austin Cook, who birdied his last two holes in chilly afternoon conditions for a 69 that the 26-year-old said could have been much lower after an impressive ball-striking performance that led to 17 of 18 greens in regulation.

“The round today was really steady. I had a bunch of chances on holes 15-18 with birdie putts around 10 feet but didn’t make a single one,” Cook said. “Considering how well I hit the ball all day long it was nice to hit some close at the end to where they were gimmies and it really rewarded my play all day.”

First-round co-leader Kyle Thompson and D.H. Lee are currently at 3-under for the tournament with both players having completed nine holes in the second round.

Jimmy Gunn, who was six under par after 14 holes of the first round, is one of the players who have still to complete their second rounds Saturday morning. Starting at the 10th, he had a birdie, but then ran up a double bogey 6 at the 14th. He is lying T17 when he resumes play.

 Second-round play will resume at 7:30 a.m. CDT (local time, Saturday).





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