Owen ties Hampshire for halfway lead in Nationwide BMW Pro-Am

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Published: Friday, May 20, 2011 | 5:57 p.m.

Hoosier Travis Hampshire followed up Thursday’s sizzling round of 60 with a 3-under-par 68 Friday while Englishman Greg Owen fired a 63 to catch the first-round leader at the halfway mark of the BWM Charity Pro-Am on the Nationwide Tour.

Hampshire and Owen are tied at 15-under-par 131. Both played Thornblade Club in Greenville Friday after spending Thursday at Carolina Country Club in Spartanburg, S.C.  The co-leaders head to Bright’s Creek Country Club in Mill Spring, N.C., Saturday before returning to Thornblade on Sunday for the final round of the popular pro-am tournament that features 25 celebrities.

2011 BMW CHARITY PRO-AM

The BMW Charity Pro-Am's format includes celebrities playing with the Nationwide Tour players over three courses.

Hampshire, a 2003 Purdue graduate, met the challenge of following up Thursday’s record-setting 12-under effort with a steady round that included four birdies and one bogey. Hampshire is playing in his eighth Nationwide Tour event. Currently 64th on the money list, he had played in only one tour event prior to this year.

“You just can’t have the expectations of going crazy-low,” Hampshire said. “Yesterday is over and done with. It was great and fun but today’s a brand new day, a new golf course and I’ve got to bring my game and try to beat this course. If you come out here with the expectation to go crazy-low again then you’re really going to frustrate yourself. Yesterday’s over and it’s on with the new one.”

The 39-year-old Owen reeled off nine birdies to match his nine of Thursday, and had only one bogey blemishing his card. Owen caught fire on the front nine Friday with birdies on holes 2-4-5-6-7.
 
“The only time it matters is where you are after 72 holes,” Owen said about holding a lead.  “I’ve not played well at all this year and my confidence is obviously growing after these two rounds but there’s still some stuff I need to get out of my system and know how well I’m playing. I am playing well and it’s nice to see and nice to feel and I’ve just got to keep thinking the same kind of thoughts.”

A PGA Tour member four of the last five seasons, Owen has made three cuts in six Nationwide Tour starts this year, with his best finish a tie for 24th in the South Georgia Classic earlier this month.

Owen and Hampshire both bettered the tournament’s 36-hole record with their 15-under 128 totals. The previous best opening 36-hole score was 129 (64-65/14 under) by Stan Utley in 2002.

South African Garth Mulroy and South Korea’s Sunghoon Kang also went low Friday with rounds of 66 and 63, respectively, to join the fray at 13 under par.

Mulroy is feeling good about his play and position. 

“I think I definitely played the toughest one yesterday (Bright's Creek),” the Raleigh, N.C., resident said after his round. “I've played this tournament the last three or four years and I know this is where everybody goes low. It's the kind of course where you have to suck it up and try and shoot 4, 5, or 6 under or else you're going to get passed by everybody.”

Second-Round Notes:

--Over the stretch of holes 4-14, Russell Knox recorded nine birdies and a double bogey. The Scottish native who now lives in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., added two birdies to his round of 63 at Carolina CC. He is 9 under through 36 holes, tied for 11th.

--Due to this week’s unique three-course celebrity/pro-am format, the tournament cut will come after 54 holes on Saturday instead of the normal 36-hole cut.  The low 60 and ties will play on Sunday at Thornblade.

--Playing together, Greenville favorites Jay Haas Sr. and Jay Haas Jr. are 4 under (tied for 63rd) and +2 (tied for 145th), respectively, through two rounds.

--Brenden Pappas was forced to withdraw after 15 holes Friday at Carolina with a back problem. Brad Elder (back) and Doug Barron (shoulder) both withdrew during the second round due to injuries.

--Ted Purdy had a pair of eagles Friday at the Carolina CC. Purdy eagled two par 5s, Nos. 4 and 13, en route to a second-round 66, 10 shots better than his first-day score at Bright’s Creek. He is currently at 2 under and tied for 96th.

--Shawn Jasper had a hole-in-one Friday at Thornblade. Jasper used a pitching wedge to ace the 139-yard fourth hole. It was his fifth career hole-in-one but the first one in professional play. He also had one back at the 2005 U.S. Amateur.

--Sunghoon Kang (67-63) of Seoul, Korea, is making his first career start on the Nationwide Tour this week. Kang, 24, is a rookie on the PGA Tour but did not qualify for this week’s stop at the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial. Kang made three cuts in his first five starts, including a season-best tie for 19th at the Mayakoba Golf Classic before taking six weeks off to return to Korea to fulfill his military service commitment. Kang spent one month undergoing basic training at Nonsan. Since returning in mid-April, Kang has missed the cut in all three of his starts, including his most recent start at the Wells Fargo Championship two weeks ago.