David Mathis shot the round of the day with a 7-under-par 63 on Friday to take a two-stroke lead at the inaugural Winn-Dixie Jacksonville Open on the Nationwide Tour, held at Dye's Valley Course at TPC Sawgrass. Craig Barlow, Kyle Reifers and Andrew Svoboda trail by two strokes.
After starting on the 10th hole, Mathis played his opening nine holes at 2 under par. He then recorded birdies on holes 3-7 and finished with a birdie on nine for the lowest round of the tournament so far.
"When you make a couple of birdies, you start believing that you are going to make more," he said.
Mathis enters the week No. 35 on the money list, needing to move up 10 spots by the end of next week's Nationwide Tour Championship at Daniel Island to finish the season in the top 25 on the money list and earn his PGA Tour card for the 2011 season.
"I think about the money list. I look at it to see where I am, but I try not to lean on it," Mathis said. "Two weeks ago I was 40th, so I have moved up five spots. Now I need to move up 10 in the next two weeks."
Mathis has played on the Nationwide Tour 2006-2008 and played one year on the PGA Tour in 2009, finishing No. 160 on the money list. The winner of the 2008 BMW Charity Pro-Am on the Nationwide Tour has five top-10 finishes this year, with his best finish (a tie for third) of the season coming at the Nationwide Children's Hospital Invitational.
"I learned a lot on the PGA Tour in 2009," said the 36-year-old Campbell University graduate. "I probably learned the most playing with Corey Pavin at the Greensboro tournament. He never tries to be someone he is not. He plays to his strengths and I have learned to play to my strengths as well."
Svoboda is one of four players who have teed it up in every Nationwide Tour event along with Ryan Armor, Ty Harris and Bubba Dickerson. After starting the year going without at top-10 finish in his first 19 tournaments, the 31-year-old St. Johns University graduate has three top-10 finishes in his last eight starts.
"Very happy with the way that I've played so far this week," Svoboda said. "This is my first year out on this Tour and I have new equipment this year. It's taken me awhile to get used to my clubs and get settled in to the travel this year. But this is a great track. You have to hit the ball really well off the tee."
The 38-year-old Barlow played the first 37 holes of the event without a bogey getting to 8-under-par, but missed the green on his final hole resulting in a bogey to put him in a three-way tie for the lead. Barlow has played both the PGA Tour and Nationwide Tour this year with his best finish on the PGA Tour coming at the Reno-Tahoe Open where he finished tied for fifth. In 10 PGA Tour events, Barlow has made eight cuts, while in 14 Nationwide Tour events, he has made just seven.
"I've played 90 percent of my pro golf on the PGA Tour. I have more of a comfort level out on the PGA Tour. I know the courses, I know more of the guys," Barlow said. "That being said, the play is very good on the Nationwide Tour. It might be harder to make the cut on this tour because the scores are so low. The cuts are often 5-under, 6-under par."
The Nationwide Tour is playing for the first time at Dye's Valley course this week at TPC Sawgrass, which hosts The Players Championship each year at the other course on property, the Players Stadium Course.
Second-Round Notes: David Mathis holds the second-round lead for the second time in his career on the Nationwide Tour. He converted his other 36-hole lead into a victory at the 2008 BMW Pro-Am. ... TPC Sawgrass member and Monday qualifier Vince Covello shot 65 to move from a tie for 95th to a tie for 21st. Covello played high school and college golf in the area and has played at TPC Sawgrass since moving here with his family before his senior year of high school. ... Andrew Svoboda is a four-time club champion at Winged Foot, where he grew up playing with his father. He started playing the course when he was 11 years old, playing there every chance he could.
Jacksonville Jaguars Kicker and avid golfer Josh Scobee was in the gallery on Friday following St. Augustine resident Jeff Klauk. Klauk is tied for 21st. ... The second-round leader/co-leader has gone on to win five times in 27 events this season. ... Through two rounds, the par-4 eighth hole has played as the toughest with a 4.430 average, while the par-5 first hole was the easiest at 4.694. ... The par-70 Dye's Valley Course at TPC Sawgrass had played to an average of 70.665 through 36 holes. ... Bogey-free rounds were carded by David Mathis, Jeff Curl and Hunter Haas. ... Kelly Grunewald 69-72 (+1) was disqualified after failing to sign his scorecard. ... Skip Kendall withdrew during the second round due to injury.