Saturday, May 01, 2010

Three share halfway lead in Nationwide Tour event

ATHENS, Georgia. South Carolina rookie Mark Anderson, leading money-winner Bobby Gates and Utah's Daniel Summerhays are all at 7-under 135 and share the 36-hole lead at the Stadion Athens Classic.
Anderson and Gates carded 2-under 69s on Friday at the University of Georgia Golf Course, while Summerhays went one better with a 3-under 68 to force a tie at the top.
Washington's Michael Putnam (69) and Texan J.J. Killeen (67) are tied for fourth and one shot back in the Nationwide Tour event. Four players -- Ryan Armour (67), Bradley Iles (71), Martin Piller (70) and veteran Bob May (68) -- are two strokes back heading into the weekend.
The UGA course, opened in 1968 and renovated in 2006, continues to be the story as players battle the speedy greens, tall pines and undulating lay-out. Only 38 players in the starting field of 156 have posted sub-par totals for the first two days.
"This golf course is awesome," said Armour, an Ohio State product. "I wish we could play more golf courses that made us think as much as this one's doing, instead of just bombing and bashing. This is fun golf. It's stressful, but it's fun."
It wasn't much fun for Anderson, a 2008 graduate of the University of South Carolina, who battled his way to a 69 despite hitting only four of 14 fairways.
"I was driving on both sides of the golf course," said Anderson. "I didn't have just one miss so it was tough to play. I missed a lot of short putts for birdie inside of 10 feet but I hit it really solid from the fairway or wherever I drove it to."
After rolling in a birdie putt at No. 17 to reach 8 under, he drove it behind a pine tree down the right side of the 18th fairway. The ball ended up buried in pine straw and the 24-year-old had no choice but to chip out. He managed to salvage a bogey and grad a share of the lead, right where he started the day.
"I haven't made any big numbers," he said of his play thus far. "You have to stay away from the big numbers because they're out there. I've just plodded along and made some nice par putts. I'm disappointed with the way I finished but it could have been a little worse."
Not so for Summerhays, who admitted he got all he could on Friday afternoon.
"There aren't too many shots that I left out there, let's just say that," said the former BYU standout. "I drove it better than I did yesterday. I honestly felt like I played better today than I did yesterday (68) but I think the course is playing tougher this afternoon than it did yesterday morning."
Summerhays was just happy he got to tee it up this week, having started off on Monday as the 10thalternate to the field.
"I've been playing well and I was really hoping I'd get in this week," he said. "I knew I just needed to get in the tournament. I've been playing well but my scores haven't reflected how I've been playing this year. I missed three cuts by a shot. I just needed a few breaks. I feel really blessed to be in the tournament."
Though tied at the top, Anderson, Summerhays and the rest of the field are chasing Gates, a 6-foot-6 rookie out of Texas A&M who has stood tall atop the money list since winning the opening event on the 2010 schedule. Gates ranks among the Tour's longest hitters this year, but this week he's managed to solve the winds and the slick greens.
"The wind swirls through the trees and it can be doing two different things on the same hole at the same time," he said. "What you feel on the tee is completely opposite of what you feel on the green. You really have to try and figure it out with you best guess and hope to err on the right side."
Gates hit 11 of 14 fairways and 12 of 18 greens during Friday's second round. His 53 total putts thus far puts him No. 2 in the field.
"I knew putting would be critical this week. Above the hole or below the hole, it doesn't matter," he said. "They're so fast, you cannot be aggressive on these putts. The only thing I'm more conservative with this week is my speed on the putts. I'm really trying to die my putts into the hole. If you hit it an ounce too firm you're going to have eight feet coming back, and that's just going to wear you out."
A total of 69 players made the 36-hole cut, which came at 1-over 143.

Link to read all the scores:



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