Frankie Minoza (Manila, Philippines) shot a 4-under-par 68 on Wednesday and opened up a three-stroke margin at the midway point of the 2010 Champions Tour National Qualifying Tournament at TPC Eagle Trace. Minoza’s 68 followed an opening-round 6-under-par 66, which gives him a 36-hole total of 10-under-par 134.
There is a logjam in second place with five players tied at 7-under-par 137. That group includes Trevor Dodds (St. Louis, Mo.), Roger Chapman (Ascot, England), Fred Holton (Montgomery, Ala.), Lee Rinker (Jupiter, Fla.) and Keith Clearwater (Orem, Utah). Five more players trail by two strokes.
The key for Minoza was his play on the front nine on Wednesday. After making a bogey at No. 3, he played Nos. 5-8 at 5 under par, including an eagle at No. 8. He hit his 3-wood from 261 yards to within 15 feet and drained his putt for the eagle.
“I’m very happy where I am right now at 10 under par,” Minoza said. “I played really good on the front nine and made three birdies and an eagle. I didn’t play quite as well on the back nine and I was a little disappointed I didn’t make any birdies on the par 5s on the back nine.”
Minoza competed in three events on the European Senior Tour this year and was a runner-up in two of those at the Chang Thailand Senior Masters and the Aberdeen Brunei Senior Masters. He has won 15 events worldwide, including events in Japan, the Philippines, South Korea, Singapore, Indonesia, Taiwan and Pakistan.
Dodds and Tim Simpson posted the day’s low rounds, each shooting a 6-under-par 66. Simpson’s round was a 13-stroke improvement from his 7-over-par 79 in the opening round. Dodd’s effort helped him move up 21 spots in the standing into a tie for second place.
“The biggest difference between my round on Tuesday and today was I hit it a lot closer than I did in the first round,” Dodds said. “I hit it pretty decent yesterday, but instead of putting it from 40 feet, I was putting from 25 feet or less and that makes a much bigger difference. Plus, the conditions were so benign today. This is not the Florida we know.”
There will be no cut in the 72-hole qualifier. At the end of 72 holes, the top-5 finishers earn fully-exempt status for the 2011 season, while the next seven players will be conditionally exempt. In addition, the top 30 finishers and ties will be eligible to compete for spots in open qualifiers at all co-sponsored events on the Champions Tour in 2010.
Q-School Notes: Minoza, Holton, Clearwater and J.L. Lewis lead all players with 12 birdies through the first two rounds. … Roger Chapman, one of five players tied for second, is a former British Amateur champion (1979). … Phil Blackmar had one of the day’s best turnarounds. After closing out his front nine with a double bogey-bogey-bogey finish, Blackmar played the back nine in 4 under par, including a critical eagle on No. 10 that helped end his disastrous front-nine finish. … Among the participants in this year’s Champions Tour National qualifier are a quartet of former medalists at this event – Mark Johnson(2005/T50, Boonchu Ruangkit (2006/T28), Gene Jones (2007/T28) and Robert Thompson (2008/T22).