Dickerson maintains lead through second round at Stadion Classic

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It wasn’t pretty, but Bubba Dickerson’s second round at the Stadion Classic at UGA was good enough. Dickerson’s even-par 71 Friday afternoon was good enough to keep the former U.S. Amateur champion atop the leaderboard, but just barely.

Dickerson’s 6-under 136 total is one stroke better than Joel Edwards (67) and Matt Hendrix (67).

2011 STADION CLASSIC

PGA Tour player Bubba Watson is the tournament host of this year's Stadion Classic.

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Patrick Sheehan (65), Troy Kelly (67), Rich Barcelo (70), Miguel Carballo (72), Luke Hickmott (65), Marco Dawson (71) and University of Georgia senior Russell Henley (66) share fourth place, two back of the leader heading into the weekend. Henley was named the 2010 National Player of the Year by Golfweek magazine and is a three-time All-America. 

A total of 76 players made the 36-hole cut, which came at 2-over-par 144. Also making the cut was another UGA senior, Harris English.

Dickerson, whose 65 resulted in a one-stroke lead after Thursday’s opener, struggled with the winds that swirled among the pines and kept him off balance for most of the afternoon.

“The wind was brutal. Swirling makes it the hardest. When it keeps stopping and going the other way it’s just tough,” he said. “I just couldn’t get settled over the ball and changed clubs a lot.”

Dickerson knew exactly the right club on the par-4 fifth hole. His sand wedge from 110 yards bounced once, skipped and then spun back into the cup for an eagle-2. Dickerson never managed to get more than one-under par at any point during the round.

“You keep doing good things and you build on it, but if you keep doing a bad thing every other hole, it’s no way to shoot a good round,” he said.

Dickerson’s tug-of-war showed up in the stats. He hit half the fairways and only 10 greens in regulation and had 29 putts, including one 3-putt for par, but still held it together well enough to give himself a shot for his second career win. 

Among those chasing him are the 49-year-old Edwards, who turns 50 in November and has his eyes on the Champions Tour in 2011 and former Clemson standout Matt Hendrix.

Edwards, a veteran of nearly 400 PGA Tour starts, has been plagued by back and elbow problems that have relegated him to part-time status for the past five years.

“Maybe you can talk them into letting me play some more,” Edwards joked. “It’s been a little frustrating but you play when you get the chance. It’s taken a long time.”

Edwards moved into contention Friday thanks to his work on the greens.

“Rollin’ my rock,” he said with a grin. “I’ve missed some I should have made and I’ve made some I shouldn’t have made. It evens out. This golf course is really hard.”

It’s been a hard road for Hendrix, who hasn’t had a full-time place to play since 2006. The former Tiger All-American has been bouncing around on mini-tours while waiting for his turn. He parlayed a Monday-qualifying spot at last week’s South Georgia Classic into a tie for 10th place, which earned him a start this week.

“Last week was a big confidence builder,” he said. “I made some good putts on Monday to get into that event and that really got me going for the week. Then the top-10 let me know my game was there.”

Australian Matthew Giles aced the 186-yard 13th hole for the first competitive hole-in-one for the 21-year-old from Sydney.

“To be honest, I didn’t really hit a great shot. I was aiming 20 feet left of the pin because it’s a difficult hole and a difficult pin. I hit it a little thin and blocked it out to the right,” he said. “It just cleared the bunker and rolled down and looked good the whole way. I saw it go in. I wasn’t going to miss it. It was awesome.”

Giles went on to shoot a 4-under 67. He is 1 under for the tournament and tied for 25th.

Second-Round Notes:

--The two amateurs who made the cut gave new life to the 15 pros who were tied at 2-over-par 144. The cut is for the low 60 professionals and ties and since Henley and English were among the top 61 players, the cut moved back to plus-2.

--Former Georgia Bulldog Erik Compton withdrew during the round, bothered by allergies and not feeling well. Jason Enloe withdrew during the round because of a neck problem. Georgia Tech’s Nicholas Thompson withdrew during the round because of an injury to his ankle.

--Woody Austin is making his first start on the Nationwide Tour in more than 12 years. Austin last teed it up at the 1999 Chitimacha Louisiana Open, where he tied for ninth. Since then, Austin has made 362 starts on the PGA Tour and won twice. Austin missed the cut at last week’s Zurich Classic of New Orleans and has made three of six cuts this year. For his career, Austin has made 484 starts, won three times, has 112 top-25 finishes and has earned $15,259,552. Austin carded rounds of 71-72—143 and will be around for the weekend.

--Rookie Rahil Gangjee of India carded a 6-under 65, his best round of the year. Gangjee, 33, bounced back from an opening 74 and is 3 under and tied for 11th. Gangjee had made only one cut in four starts this year and his previous best round was a 3-under 68 to open the rain-shortened Pacific Rubiales Bogota Open (tied for 30th).

--Steve Pate, winner of the 2010 Pacific Rubiales Bogota Open, made his final start on the Nationwide Tour this week. The six-time PGA Tour winner turns 50 on May 26 and will join the Champions Tour shortly thereafter. Pate shot a 2-under 69 and finished at 2-over 144, good enough to play on Saturday and Sunday. 

--There were only two eagles during Thursday’s opening round but a total of 12 on Friday, including an ace and four eagles on par 4s. Friday’s scoring average was 71.705 (+0.705).