ATHENS, Ga. -- Friday was Billy Horschel’s turn. After watching playing partner Kent Jones shoot a course-record 63 in Thursday’s opening round of the Stadion Classic on the Nationwide Tour, Horschel popped eight birdies on the board and posted his own 63 Friday to move into a share of the 36-hole lead.
Horschel’s bogey-free effort put him at 10-under 132 after two days at the University of Georgia Golf Course and tied for first place with Jim Herman, who quietly carved out his second straight 5-under 66.
Horschel and Herman were both in the first groups off the tee Thursday morning and Friday afternoon and finished up within minutes of each other on the huge double-green that looks like a giant horseshoe. Horschel got up-and-down for par at No. 9 while Herman tapped in for birdie at No. 18.
Luke List, winner of last week’s South Georgia Classic, shot a 4-under 67 in the morning and held the clubhouse lead at 9-under 133 for half the day. List is tied for third with cross-handed Josh Broadaway of Albany, Ga., Australia’s Aron Price, who reeled off six consecutive birdies at one point and shot a 5-under 67 and Californian Jason Gore, who opened with four straight birdies to move into contention.
Monday qualifier Brandon Brown (69) and Cliff Kresge (66) share seventh place at 8-under 136, two back.
Horschel, a former Florida Gator, admitted he would have liked to shoot 62 and own the outright record on the rival Bulldogs’ home course, but it just wasn’t to be. The former All-American also admitted he was in his own little zone toward the end of his front nine and wasn’t paying attention to what Jones or Doug LaBelle, the third member of the group, was doing.
“Your mind just shuts down, which is the greatest thing in the world,” said Horschel about his zoning out. “You don’t think much. You see the shot, you see the line on the green and you just go ahead and hit it. You don’t worry about the speed.”
Horschel’s putting has been much improved the last few weeks following a session with his coach at the Valero Texas Open in San Antonio.
“I’ve always been a bit of a ‘pop’ putter. I don’t take it back far enough, I accelerate really fast and have too much follow through,” he said. “Now I try to make sure it goes back only as far as it needs to go. You don’t worry about adding any ‘hit’ to it at all. My speed has been good since then.”
Horschel had a lot of opportunities to work on his putting Friday because he hit 17 greens in regulation.
“I birdied my 10th hole to go to 6 under and my goal today was to shoot 6 under. I had eight holes left,” he said. “When you meet your goal midway through the round, you’ve got to raise the bar again to keep yourself going.”
Meantime, Herman was quietly plugging along on the opposite side of the course. The former Cincinnati resident opened with a bogey on No. 1 but then added a trio of paired-up birdies. Herman birdied Nos. 4 & 5, Nos. 11 & 12 and then Nos. 17 &18.
His final birdie at the 488-yard 18th came after a whopping 344-yard drive left him with only a pitching wedge to the green.
“I don’t know if I hit a sprinkler head or what, but I was able to get it way down the fairway,” said Herman, who averages about 300 yards off the tee but has bulked up his stats and is averaging 327.5 yards in driving distance this week. “It was a big advantage to be able to stop the ball and play it off the slope.”
Herman’s wedge nestled in tight and left him an easy putt to tie Horschel for the lead.
--A total of 63 players made the 36-hole cut, which came at 2-under 140.
--This is the third year the tournament has been held at the UGA course and the first time the cut has been under par. The cut was 1 over in 2010 and 2 over par last year.
--Zack Miller withdrew prior to the start of the second round.
--Defending champion Russell Henley missed the cut after posting scores of 69-74--143.
--Billy Horschel’s 8-under 63 tied the course record set on Thursday morning by playing partner Kent Jones. Horschel’s 63 was his career best. His previous low was a 64 in the second round of The McGladrey Classic last year on the PGA Tour.
--Tyrone Van Aswegen (67-68) is 7 under par after two rounds despite hitting only 13 of 28 fairways the first two days. Van Aswegen found the short grass only four times in 14 tries on Friday but still managed to shoot a 3-under 68.
--David Skinns hit 16 of 18 greens on Friday and shot a 1-under 70 but had 34 putts. Skinns was a Monday qualifier at last week’s South Georgia Classic and tied for 18th, which earned him a spot in this week’s field.
--Fabian Gomez tied the tournament record with five consecutive birdies. Gomez had his run on holes 7-11. He countered those five birdies with five bogeys on the day and shot an even-par 71.
--Aron Price set a tournament record with six straight birdies. Price had his streak on holes 4-9.
--Corey Nagy and Aron Price both tied the tournament record of 5-under 30 on the front nine. Both players had six birdies and one bogey.
--First-round lead Kent Jones shot a 2-over 73. He is 6 under through two days and tied for 13th.
--Corey Nagy had eight birdies in Round 2 and shot a 1-under 70 to miss the cut. Nagy also penciled in four bogeys and one triple bogey on his card. He opened with a 5-over 76 Thursday but had seven birdies in his first 10 holes and was 1 under for the tournament. He then went bogey/triple/bogey, and had 9-hole scores of 30-40.
--Two current University of Georgia golfers were given sponsor exemptions into the field this week. Sophomore Brian Carter (72-72--144) and freshman Nicholas Reach (75-72) both missed the 36-hole cut.
--Georgia grad Paul Claxton continues to roll along in 2012. Claxton posted scores of 68-71--139 (-3) and has made the cut in all eight of his starts this season. The eight in a row matches Claxton’s career-best run of consecutive cuts. He made eight straight in 1995 but didn’t have a top-10 finish. He also made eight straight last year but, again, did not have a top-10 finish. This year, Claxton has a pair of top-3 finishes and came into the week No. 7 on the money list. Claxton has made a combined 481 career starts since 1994 -- 375 on the Nationwide Tour and 106 on the PGA Tour. He is No. 2 on the Tour’s All-Time money list behind Darron Stiles.
--The Nationwide Tour will take next week off before resuming play at the BMW Charity Pro-Am in Greenville, S.C. The tournament will be staged at three different courses in the greater Greenville area -- Thornblade Club (host), Greenville CC and Carolina CC -- May 14-20.