One year ago, Keegan Bradley was a qualifier making his second career start on the Nationwide Tour and just happy to make the 36-hole cut at the Miccosukee Championship. Today, the 24-year old transplanted Floridian is the 36-hole leader and hoping to close in on his first career win.
Bradley posted a 4-under 67 Friday afternoon to get to 11-under 131 and take the second-round lead in the Nationwide Tour event. Bradley owns a one-stroke lead over Canada’s David Hearn (68) and Californian Jason Gore (67).
Andrew Svoboda, a St. John’s University graduate like Bradley, carded a 1-under 70 and holds down solo fourth, two back.
Utah Championship winner Michael Putnam (69) shares fifth place with veteran Brandt Jobe (71), Adam Meyer (68) and Scott Stallings (66).
“It’s going to be so much fun playing in the final group here,” said Bradley, who tied for 21stin 2009. “I Monday’d for this event last year and it’s kind of cool that a year later I’m in contention. I’ll never forget last year. I remember putting out on 18 and I was so happy.”
Bradley has been all smiles this year while putting together a solid rookie season on Tour. He’s made the cut in 16 of 26 starts with three top-5 finishes in his last three starts. He is No. 12 on the money list and certain to be one of the 25 leading money winners at the end of the year who will move onto the PGA TOUR in 2011.
For the second time in three weeks he finds himself leading after two rounds.
“The second-round leader doesn’t mean anything,” said Bradley, who also led by one two weeks ago at the Soboba Golf Classic in San Jacinto, Calif. “It just means you’ve played well the first two days, but it doesn’t mean anything. The players are so good. I’m still going to have to go out and play good on the weekend no matter what.”
He’ll be paired with Hearn, who is No. 30 on the money list and trying to crack the top-25, and Gore, a fan favorite who has struggled for much of the year and stands No. 124 in the dash-for-cash.
“It’s been urgent for a long time now,” said Hearn, who is running out of time to accomplish his goal. “I didn’t want to leave it this late. I would have rather wrapped it up a long time ago. There’s 30 events on the schedule for a reason and I guess I’m going to use them all.”
Hearn’s chances will increase exponentially if he continues his accuracy off the tee (T3) and in hitting greens in regulation (2nd).
“You start by hitting the fairways, then hit the greens, then make the putts,” said Hearn. “I’ve done well here in the past when I have hit the fairways. There are a lot of long holes and so if you don’t hit the fairway you’re going to have a hard time with a 4- or 5-iron out of the rough.”
Gore has been having a hard time all year. The six-time Nationwide Tour winner and past PGA TOUR champion has been fighting off bad swings and bad swing thoughts this season. He’s made only 11 cuts in 19 starts and his T16 at last week’s Chattanooga Classic was his first top-25 finish in 2010.
“It’s good to finally see stuff pay off,” said Gore. “It’s been close all year but to be able to look and see that I shot a 4-under today and didn’t feel like I player super is a good sign. Before, I’d shoot even-par and think I was playing great. It’s a good sign that I’m starting to feel better and confident and I’m able to hit some shots and go chase it.”
* Phil Tataurangi withdrew during the round due to illness.
* In order to accommodate a 4 p.m. finish time on Saturday for The Golf Channel, Saturday’s third-round play will be in threesomes off the 1st and 10th tees. Tee times will run from approximately 9:00—11:00 a.m.
* A total of 66 players made the 36-hole cut, which came at 2-under 140.
* James Hahn, No. 25 on the money list, advanced to the weekend with rounds of 70-66. Hahn said being the “bubble boy” doesn’t bother him too much. “I’ve had to deal with it the entire season so it’s nothing new,” said Hahn, who has hovered between No. 12 and 34 for most of the year. “It seems like everyone makes a big deal about it, and I’m not saying it’s a good thing or a bad thing, it’s just one of those things that makes me focus more on the present. It’s one shot at a time, it’s really that simple.”
* Adam Meyer (66-68) is T5 after two rounds – the highest he has ever been after any single round in his Nationwide Tour career. Meyer’s previous best came earlier this year when he was T6 after three rounds of the Fresh Express Classic in Hayward, Calif. His best career finish is a T8 at the 2007 Utah EnergySolutions Championship. Meyer had missed the cut in seven of his previous eight starts and is No. 86 on the money list.
* Daniel Summerhays (71-71) missed the cut after finishing 2nd, 2nd and T16 in his last three starts. Despite getting the weekend off, Summerhays extended his streak of consecutive par-or-better rounds to 15. In his last 18 starts/63 rounds, Summerhays has posted an above-score only 5 times.
* Veteran Kirk Triplett (69-71) made the cut, giving him six cuts made in all six starts on Tour this year. Triplett has finished T3 twice this season and is No. 77 on the money list.
* Scott Gardiner, winner of last week’s Chattanooga Classic shot scores of 68-69—137 (-5) and is T23 heading into the weekend.
* Chris Nallen (70-73) missed the cut this week. Nallen has now missed his last five cuts after previously making nine in a row. He entered the week No. 21 on the money list.
* Travis Wadkins, son of legendary player Lanny Wadkins, missed the cut in his first career start on Tour after posting scores of 68-75. Wadkins, 23, lives in Texas and is a 2010 graduate of Wake Forest University.
* Six of the top-10 leading money winners are not competing this week: No. 1 Jamie Lovemark, No. 2 Chris Kirk, No. 5 Hunter Haas, No. 6 Martin Piller, No. 8 Kevin Chappell and No. 10 Bobby Gates. Lovemark and Chappell received sponsor exemptions in this week’s PGA TOUR event, the Frys.com Open in San Jose, Calif.
* Fran Quinn, No. 60 on the money list, withdrew prior to the start of play on Thursday. Quinn is a member of the PGA TOUR this year after finishing No. 25 on the money list in 2009 but has been on the shelf with back problems since the end of April. His season was cut short after just seven starts. Quinn was on property earlier in the week but said he didn’t think his back was ready for the stress put on it by a golf swing.
* There is one full-field event left on the 2010 schedule after this week – the Winn-Dixie Jacksonville Open. The season ends with the top-60 money winners competing at the Nationwide Tour Championship at Daniel Island, Oct. 25-31.