RALEIGH, N.C. – Raleigh rookie Chesson Hadley fired a 2-under 69 Friday and moved into first place at the halfway mark of the Rex Hospital Open, the mid-point event on the 2013 Web.com Tour schedule.
Hadley, who grew up minutes away from the TPC Wakefield Plantation, stands at 1-under 132 and one stroke in front of Jason Gore (68), Edward Loar (65) and Danny Lee (66).
Lee held a share of the lead until a three-putt bogey from 55 feet on the final hole dropped him back to 9-under 133.
First-day leader Andrew Putnam (72) and Scott Dunlap (65) are at 8 under and share fifth place heading into the weekend.
Four others – Kyle Reifers (66), Mathew Goggin (68), Ryan Spears (68) and two-time U.S. Open champion Lee Janzen (70) – are tied for seventh place, three back of Hadley.
The 25-year-old tournament leader has held up well under a heavy media and family spotlight as he continues his quest for his first tour title.
“It’s always a little bit more pressure when you have the hometown atmosphere, and that comes with the territory,” he said. “We’ve handled it pretty well so far and it’s going to get harder. It’s all about the back nine on Sunday.”
Hadley managed only three birdies on his card Friday after chalking up eight in Thursday’s opener.
“I made 14 pars today. Pars aren’t necessarily a lot of fun but they’re good scores, especially when the pins are tucked like they were today,” he said. “You just can’t go firing one in there like normally would. I hit some really good shots and just stayed patient all day which is key to playing well. I’m going to need to stay patient for the rest of the week.”
Hadley is No. 9 on the tour money list thanks mainly to a three-week run last month that saw him finish tied for third, tied for sixth and second in consecutive starts. The lead he holds after 36 holes is his first lead of any kind this season.
“It’s not necessarily unfamiliar territory,” said the Georgia Tech grad. “You get your teeth kicked in enough for trying too hard. Maybe I’m going to find a different way and kind of relax.”
A change in attitude is partially responsible for Gore’s resurgence in 2013. The seven-time tour winner has made seven cuts in 10 starts and is No. 39 on the money list and is close to matching his money total from last year when he finished a disappointing 71st in the money standings.
“I’m excited to come to the golf course every day, good, bad or ugly. I didn’t want any part of it last year,” he said. “It turned into too much of a job for me (last year). This was never a job for me, it’s more like a passion. I felt like I was running east and looking for the sunset.”
Last fall Gore applied for a coaching job at Pepperdine, his alma mater, but wasn’t selected.
“I think I wanted it,” he said of the job with the Waves. “I’m glad I didn’t get it. Traveling as much as we do, you’re never happy where you’re at. If you’re at home you want to be playing golf and if you’re playing golf you want to be at home. You just have to be happy with where you’re at, what you’re doing and who you are.”
--A total of 66 players made the 36-hole cut, which came at 2-under par 140. Last year’s numbers are nearly identical – the leader was at 10 under, the cut came at 2 under and 60 players advanced to the weekend.
--22 of the top-25 leading money winners were entered this week. The three who didn’t tee it up are Brendon Todd (No. 7), Patrick Cantlay (No. 10) and Dawie van der Walt (No. 25).
--Among those missing the cut week were 2013 tournament winners Kevin Foley, Kevin Kisner and Benjamin Alvarado. Also missing the cut were Raleigh native Lee Bedford (74-69) and North Carolina State’s Matt Hill (74-69).
--Leading money winner Michael Putnam has quietly put himself in good position for another solid week. Putnam, the tour’s only two-time winner this year, has posted scores of 68-68 (-6) and is tied for 11th place.
--Edward Loar, No. 2 on the money list, also moved up the board thanks to a solid 6-under 65. Loar jumped to 9 under for the tournament and tied for third with Jason Gore.
--Pepperdine University has a noticeable presence on the leaderboard with three graduates – Jason Gore (tied for second), Andrew Putnam (tied for fifth) and Michael Putnam (tied for 11th).
--Scott Parel, runner-up here a year ago and winner of last week’s Air Capital Classic in Wichita, Kan., fired a 1-under 70 and stands at 5 under par. He is tied for 16th place.
--First-round leader Andrew Putnam followed his opening 63 with a 1-over 72, which leaves him in fifth place heading into the weekend.
“It was a pretty good finish to an otherwise bad round,” said Putnam, whose only two birdies came on the final two holes. “I was definitely more relaxed but it didn’t help. I think maybe I play better when I’m a little on the edge. I thought being relaxed was going to help me today but I had a few things that didn’t go my way, but that’s just golf.”
--Erik Flores had a hole-in-one at the par-3 16th hole. Flores used an 8-iron from 169 yards. He carded a 5-under 66 but missed the cut at 1 under par.
--Scott Dunlap and Edward Loar lead the field with 13 birdies each. Danny Lee and Len Mattiace lead the field in driving accuracy (26 of 28). Dunlap leads the field in greens in regulation (34 of 36); he was perfect (18 of 18) on Friday.