Hoffmann holds 36-hole lead at Utah Championship after afternoon storm

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PGA.com news services

Series: Web.com Tour

Published: Friday, July 13, 2012 | 11:16 p.m.

SANDY, Utah -- With three holes to play, Morgan Hoffmann stood on the seventh tee when a late-afternoon storm full of wind and rain hit the Utah Championship. On No. 8, his 17th hole of the day, Hoffmann hit a 4-iron tee shot that went 206 yards. In the first round, that same shot went, he said, 250 yards.
 
"I thought the storm would be more fun. I just wish everybody would have had to play in it and see what it was like," said Hoffmann, a former Oklahoma State Cowboy who turned pro after his junior season. The wind, gusting to 30 mph and occasional rain, didn't seem to faze him as he parred in at Willow Creek Country Club to shoot a 4-under 67 to go with his opening 64. He's at 11 under, a stroke ahead of Tyrone Van Aswegen, Doug LaBelle II and Andres Gonzales, with 36 holes to play.

"I'm excited for the weekend," said the veteran of the 2009 U.S. Walker Cup, where he was teammates with Cowboy golfers Rickie Fowler and Peter Uihlein, as well as current PGA Tour players Bud Cauley, Brian Harman and Cameron Tringale. "I'm feeling a lot more comfortable with my swing and my putting."

UTAH CHAMPIONSHIP

The Utah Championship has been a staple of what is now called the Web.com Tour since 1990, when John Daly won the inaugural edition.

"I changed up something small on the greens," Hoffmann continued, "and it's helped out."

Low scores were in abundance Friday, with relatively calm weather until the final hour of the day. Playing in consecutive groups, Van Aswegen and Murphy made it look easy, as they tied the course record with their 62s. Perhaps most surprising was Murphy's 9-under tour around Willow Creek immediately after Van Aswegen had posted the same score. Murphy is making his first Web.com Tour start of the season after finishing 102nd on the 2011 money list, losing his exemption.

"I've been working really hard on my game. I haven't been playing in as many tournaments. I've just been trying to get better by practicing," said Murphy, who has his wife, Amanda, serving as his caddie this week. "I struggled out here the last two years and wasn't getting any better and wasn't really enjoying playing tournaments. I wanted to improve and get better, and that's what I've been trying to do."

He Monday-qualified to get into this week's event, after missing by one stroke at the TPC Stonebrae Championship Monday qualifier. He also had intentions of trying to qualify at the Preferred Health Systems Wichita Open in June, but the airline lost his luggage, leaving him with no clubs for Amanda, his wife of three years, to carry. Murphy has only played a couple of Gateway Tour tournaments and two eGolf Tour events this season prior to the Utah Championship.

Murphy's bogey-free, seven-birdie, one-eagle performance Friday served as a testament that his more-practice-than-competing plan is working. He's tied for fifth with 2010 Utah Championship winner Michael Putnam.

Van Aswegen talked about the elusive "zone" as he tried to explain his 62. "It just seemed so easy. Standing over the (approach) shot on the last hole, I thought, 'Man, this just feels comfortable and easy. So it's weird."

On the ninth hole, his 18th of the day, Van Aswegen barely missed a hole-out eagle from the fairway, tapping in from a foot for birdie for his final stroke of the morning.

Meanwhile, LaBelle and Gonzales are tied for second. Putting woes hampered LaBelle, and following his round he went to the practice green for a little work.

"I'm going to work on it. That's the only thing that's keeping me from being at 15 under right now," he said. "I'm doing enough good things well. I was just having a little trouble with the speed today. My speed was great yesterday. Today wasn't as good."

Second-Round Notes:

--The cut came at 3 under, with 72 players qualifying for the weekend. In five of the previous 13 tournaments, the cut has been at 3 under, including last year. In 2005 the cut was at even, and in 2006, 2007 and 2008, the cut was at 4 under for the two extremes of the cut in the tournament's history.

--In 2011, 65 players made the cut. The most to ever play on the weekend is 76 at the 2005 Utah Championship. The fewest was in 2000, 2006 and 2009, when 61 players qualified.

--The bogey-free rounds Friday came from James Hahn, James Love, Trevor Murphy, Brian Stuard and Aaron Watkins.

--Seven second-round leaders have gone on to win the Utah Championship, including the last two -- Michael Putnam (2010) and J.J. Killeen (2011).

--With the 62s from Tyrone Van Aswegen and Trevor Murphy, the tournament has now had four 62s in the last two years and five overall. A year ago, eventual champion J.J. Killeen shot a 62 in the first round, and Jeff Gove had a 62 in the second round. Gove established the original 18-hole record with his 62 in the third round of 2009.

--Andrew Svoboda went to the 16th tee Friday at even-par, knowing the cut was probably going to be at 3 under. He birdied the par-4 16th, made birdie on the par-5 17th and then hit his approach on the par-3 18th to about 27 feet. Facing a downhill birdie putt that broke from left to right, he drained the putt and made the cut on the number.

--Brendan Pappas withdrew during the round with an injury.